It’s hard to believe the holiday shopping season is here! With that in mind, this is the perfect time to start making your holiday shopping lists and budgeting for those items. The earlier we start making a holiday budget the better — we don’t want to be stuck paying for those expenses four to six months from now. Here are some helpful hints to keep your gift spending in check this year.
- Set Limits for Total Holiday Spending. Take 10 minutes and write down every person you'll need to buy for. Don't get locked into the thought that how much you spend measures how good of a person you are. Sit down and plan out your holiday budget before you head to the malls or connect to your favorite sites this year. Avoid impulses to shop at trendy department stores and start the holiday by taking a moment to think about what those on your list could really use.
- Budget Based on Your Own Finances. If you are in a different place financially than another family member who gets you the fanciest presents, don’t feel like you have to follow suit. Do you really need to exchange gifts with everyone in your family? Suggest giving a group gift to certain members of your family rather than individual gifts. Just because you had a long gift list last year doesn’t mean you need to repeat it this year.
- Let Family Traditions Decide Your Spending. It's the family traditions and memories that really stand out. When deciding what to buy and what to do, first consider your family's favorite traditions and holiday memories. A small, thoughtful gift is worth more than an expensive gift that someone may never use. Limit the size of your Christmas in terms of gifts to make it big on meaning from family, friends, traditions, and creating memories.
- Track Your Spending. You've made a spending plan, but if you don't keep track of all your purchases and make sure you're staying within your budget, you've wasted your time. Write down everything you spend on holiday clothing, cards, postage, wrapping paper and decorations. Gifts large or small can really add up and leave you with a hefty bill at the end of the season.
- Shop Early. Don't wait until the last minute. Give yourself time to compare prices and find the best deals. An all-out shopping spree leaves you exhausted from shopping, tempting you to buy the next thing you see regardless of cost. Last-minute shoppers are unlikely to save money.
- Load Up Your Wallet With Cash. Leave your credit cards at home and bring only cash. This will force you to budget and make overspending more obvious. People will sometimes spend up to a third more when paying with credit instead of cash. There is no emotional attachment to plastic like there is to cash. If you plan on using plastic, try shopping with no more than two credit cards. The more cards you use, the harder it is to track spending.
In the end, the holidays are all about enjoying friends and family. Stay focused on time with loved ones and other joys of the season!