It is that time of year again, and many of us are starting to think about Christmas shopping. Instead of grinding out those last second, last resort ideas (nobody enjoys getting useless junk, but it is the thought that counts, right?), or going into credit card debt over a second cousin, twice removed, here are 6 ideas to help you budget for the holidays.
1) Start Early
Starting early gives you the flexibility to choose the gifts you want to give (rather than picking through the leftovers that remain the week of Christmas). This will also give you the time to shop smart – the more time you have, the more patient you can be, the more opportunities you will have to find the best deals.
2) Make a List
By making a list of people you are buying for, you can make sure you stick to your plan. This will allow you to stay on task and not purchase unnecessary gifts. Make sure your list is complete – you don’t want to be on Aunt Helen’s naughty list.
3) Set a Limit
Before you head out into the “lion’s den,” figure out the amount you want to spend. Make sure your budget is sufficient to allow for your planned spending. Once you have settled on a total (this should be a negotiation with yourself…do not go with the first number that comes to mind. TRIM THE FAT), allocate the total against the list of people you want to buy for.
4) Cut out Unnecessary Spending
Leading up to Christmas shopping, it is helpful to cut out unnecessary spending to soften the blow of the Christmas splurge. Try cutting out your daily skinny cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks, protein bar, or your stop at the local Baskin Robbins. Five dollars a day is five dollars a day.
5) Use Coupons
Don’t be ashamed…no one will know. It is ok to open the Sunday paper to peruse for coupons. Groupon is also a great option for cost cutting for Christmas gifts. Also, many coupon sites online offer gift cards for discounted rates.
6) Try Online
Before you shop, check out competitor’s ads and go online. Checking out the best deals from several stores will save you time and money. Many items are not available in stores, and pricing can be different if you make your purchase online. No lines to wait in and no hustle and bustle. Shopping online (or at least doing your research online prior to venturing out) can and will help you save money.
This gift-giving season, try a thoughtful, planned out approach to your Christmas shopping and you may find a surprise for yourself in your pocketbook.