The holidays are here, complete with Christmas carols, holiday movies, beautiful light displays and shopping, shopping, shopping…
Believe it or not, the process of buying all those perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones can be fun, budget-friendly and low stress! The trick? A little preplanning and strategic thinking. Before you go running to the store with your latest paycheck, read through these 6 tips:
Make a Christmas Shopping List
The easiest way to end up double buying, over buying, blowing your budget or forgetting about someone that you should be shopping for is to walk into the store completely blind. Remember, these businesses pay big money in many cases to marketing professionals with the purpose of convincing you to buy everything and anything – you don’t want to fall victim, spend you full gift budget, and then find out that you completely missed the mark on who you were shopping for entirely! Make a list of people and what you are looking to purchase for each of them to keep you on topic.
Set Yourself a Spending Limit
The holidays can get super expensive and fast if you aren’t prepared. One of the biggest steps that many people overlook is truly understanding your spending budget. Start by setting an overall spending total, keeping your personal budget in mind. There is no reason to go into debt just for the holidays! Once you have this total number, break it down so that you have a spending cap for each person you are shopping for. Most importantly, once you have a spending limit STICK TO IT!
It REALLY is the Thought That Counts
Yes, it’s a total cliché, but there is truth to it! Too many people get wrapped up in trying to buy the biggest and best, falling into the trap that you have to buy something ‘good enough’ to validate your relationship. Don’t allow yourself to fall down this material world rabbit hole. Rather than looking to impress with how flashy or expensive your gift is, focus your attention on something that has meaning. Draw your inspiration from inside jokes and favourite shared memories.
Stick to Paying in Cash
A movement that is gaining momentum in budget circles is the importance of returning to paying in cash rather than relying on debit cards and credit cards. Why? When you are spending cash you have a clear, tangible idea of what you have left in your budget, forcing you to stick with the amount that you set out with. Sure, you may only go over by $1 here or $2 there with your regular spending, however, that little bit adds up and it adds up fast! When you are heading out withdraw just the total of your spending limit, and don’t allow yourself to cheat.
Remember Who You Are Shopping For
Ok, I admit it, I’m as guilty as the next person for this one… When you are actually in the store doing your Christmas shopping, try to keep yourself focused on exactly who you are shopping for. This goes back again to the idea of the marketing professionals setting everything up so that you want to buy. This works not only for giving you ideas for your friends and family but also, how many times have you gone out shopping and wanted to pick up that ‘perfect’ item for yourself? Put a ban on personal shopping for luxury items – it will keep you from overspending and buying unnecessary items, help you stick to your budget AND leave items available for those that are looking for gift ideas for you during this time!
Make the Deals Work for You
While some of this requires starting early, there are still options to play the deals available to you in your favor. Take advantage of sales and deals. We have Black Friday just around the corner if you dare to brave the craziness of the stores, or (if you are like me and won’t be caught dead shopping in that craziness) Cyber Monday is a great opportunity! Also, watch for businesses that put their gift cards on sale for the holidays. This doesn’t mean that you have to give gift cards (I prefer going out and buying an actual gift myself) but you can pick up the gift cards at a discounted price and then use them for your shopping saving money in the end!
Are you an early shopper, trying to get your holiday shopping out of the way before the rush of the holidays, or do you usually leave your Christmas shopping for the last minute? What are your must follow holiday shopping tips?