When you are a kid, Christmas is probably the best day of the year, maybe even better than your birthday. The anticipation, the holiday traditions, and even time off from school make it a very enjoyable time of the year.
Fast forward 20 to 30 years, and, especially if you have children and other friends and relatives to buy presents for, it can end up being a lot less enjoyable. Even shopping for loved ones can be more of a chore than enjoyable, especially fighting the crowds at the mall or a retail store, or trying to figure out what to give that special someone who seems to have everything.
Even worse, all of the spending around the Christmas season can deplete your savings account and even cause you to go into debt if you are not paying attention. Certainly, when you don’t have a game plan for your holiday shopping, it is a lot easier to spend more than you need to or even should, depending on your budget.
Start planning carefully now
Do you know all of the people you need to buy presents for? What about holiday parties? Do you need to bring a gift for a person or gift exchange, or a bottle of wine to your neighbor’s party? This is one I am always forgetting, and it ends up costing me because I have to run to the store at the last minute and try to pick a bottle of wine or something that doesn’t look too cheap-and I usually spend more than I would really like.
Make a list
Brainstorm and think of everyone you are planning to spend money on this year, and every occasion that you will buy something to bring. OF COURSE, you won’t forget your kids, or your wife or girlfriend, but what about your administrative assistant at work? Does everyone chip in to buy something for the boss? Do you donate money to a charity every year at Christmas time? Write it all down so you don’t have any surprises as Christmas gets closer.
After you write the list, let it sit for a couple of days and re-examine it. Did you forget anyone? If so, put them on it. Leaving off just a few people or parties where you need to bring something can cost you money you don’t think you will be spending.
Check it twice- and eliminate what you can
Go through the list and think about who is on it. Did you forget anyone? Can you eliminate anyone? Will your second cousin Bill mind if you doesn’t exchange gifts this year? Give him a call and find out. He probably won’t because he didn’t really like the fruitcake you were sending him every Christmas, even though he said he did!
Set a budget or spending limit
Even if you don’t like the “B” word, you need a budget or an idea of how much you are going to spend on each person or occasion, and how much you are going to spend in total. If you’ve saved money in a Christmas fund all year long, you may already have an idea of your limit. If not, can you afford to spend as much as your list is adding up to? If not, you need to cut back on how much you will spend on each person, or eliminate some of the items on the list.
Do you really need to buy a $40 bottle of wine to bring to your boss’s Christmas party when a $12 bottle will do just fine? Does your nephew have to have an Ipod or will another brand of MP3 player work just as well and cost a lot less?
Add a buffer
Whatever you come up with as a holiday spending budget, add at least 10%. So if you are at your budget limit, try to cut back to about 90% of that budget. Leave yourself a buffer to allow yourself a little wiggle room if the right gift comes along for that special person, or if you just can’t find something for the amount you planned for someone else.
Start comparison shopping now- and online too
Believe it or not , there are many good sales and great deals that can be found both before and after the shopping season really kicks off on Black Friday. I have been doing more and more online shopping over the last few years and I really like finding great deals on the Internet and getting them shipped to my house.
Jump on the good deals when you see them
When you see a gift idea for someone at a great price, go ahead and get it. The more gifts you buy now, especially at a good price, the less you will have to buy as Christmas grows near and the malls and retail stores become really crowded.
Don’t worry if you don’t spend as much as you planned on someone, or if you spent $20 extra on your younger child than your older one. Unless you got the younger child a whole lot more presents than the older too, they will never notice. If you have to spend a little more, and it doesn’t break your budget, do it without worrying- you goal is to make someone happy.
The Christmas season is about giving freely of yourself, spending the holidays with those you love, and relaxing. Hopefully these tips help you enjoy the holiday shopping season a little more this year, with a little less stress and frustration when it comes to holiday shopping.
Image by myeralan
- How To Save Time and Money on Your Last Minute Christmas Shopping
- Personal Finance Links- Xmas Season Edition
- Ways To Avoid Online Scams and Stay Safe Online This Holiday Season
- Start Your Christmas Shopping Early With a Free 30 Day Trial to Amazon Prime Free Shipping