It’s that time of year again! Christmas decorations are popping up everywhere, there’s a chill in the air, and you can already imagine your credit card balance increasing over the next few weeks. With the busiest shopping day of the year quickly approaching, you can keep your gift spending under control with a little planning. Ideally, setting aside a set amount monthly throughout the year is the best way to provide a stress-free gift shopping experience, but if you didn’t think that far ahead (like me), here are some tips to help your shopping not to get out of hand.
- Make a list. If you are like me, this step sounds really exciting. I love to make a list. On this list, write down every person that you would like to give a gift. After each person is listed, put the gift that you would like to get them by their name.
- Do your research. After you know what you are looking for, shop around online to price the items at different retailers. Write down the best price you can find by each gift. After you have all of your prices, add them together. This number is your total shopping budget.
- Evaluate. If your total budget is more than you wanted to spend, reevaluate the list and make the necessary changes.
- Shop. Watch newspaper ads and commercials for promotional events. Take advantage of any coupons available. Your goal should be to buy each gift on or below the amount you budgeted.
- Cash if you can. When shopping, take your budgeted shopping amount in cash. When it’s gone, it’s gone. If you have cash, you are more likely to spend less and plan more. If you are shopping online, try to use a debit card instead of a credit card. Divide your shopping according to your pay schedule so you won’t be tempted to use a credit card. There’s nothing worse than a huge credit card bill in January.
- Save on wrapping. When you shop, make sure you ask for boxes or any kind of gift wrap they offer complementary. Save money on wrapping paper by using newspaper or a large roll of butcher paper. Let the kids decorate it!
So let’s all get to planning and have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season!