The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year but they can also wear out your credit card. Don’t want to be greeted with a bill in the new year? Follow my guide to holiday shopping.
Yes, if you want to save money it will require some work and a little time. Don’t worry, I am not talking about making your gifts with things around the house. Create a list of every person you want to give a gift to. Figure out a specific dollar amount that is practical to spend overall, this will be the maximum amount of money you CAN afford to spend. Either divide up the budget evenly or create specific mini budgets for each person.
- The List.
Write down a wish list for each person or ask what each person on your list would like. No list? What are their interests, I’m sure you have some ideas. Even if an item on the list is out of their assigned budget write it down.
- Prep Baby Prep.
Before jumping in the car and elbowing through the crowd, create a plan. Below is a sample list; I cannot tell you how many times I hear people complain that their coupon won’t load or their phone is about to die. It is not the checker’s problem, so don’t be that person. Save yourself the hassle, charge your phone and screenshot or print out any coupons that may apply. Also screenshot or print any competitor’s ads if you would like the store to do a price match. Check prices online, since often retailers have different prices in store. Most retailers will match their online price in store, simply show them the ad online with all the specs so they can identify that it is the exact item.
Item A _________ for ___________
Sold at: _________ $ ______
Sold at: _________ $ ______
Coupons offered: yes or no *Screenshot or print out all coupons
Price Match: yes or no, _________ $ _______
- Trust Issues.
Be honest with yourself, if you have trouble overspending go to the bank and withdraw the exact amount you have budgeted to spend. Put the money in separate envelopes with each person’s name on it, place them in a cosmetic bag so that they will not get lost. If you spend less for someone make the decision to transfer to another person’s envelope or simply put the money aside then back into bank once all the Christmas shopping is done.
- Guilt Dollars.
People often feel guilty during the holidays for not spending their entire budget on presents, however, that is the wrong way to budget. The goal of budgeting is to not end up in debt and not to show up to the holiday party dressed as Wllly Wonka. If you were gifted something that you know someone else on your list would love, treat its retail value as money spent, often these gifts would tip the budget anyway. Do not feel as if you need to pile on more either. When using coupons there are two options either use the retail price or the discount price. I sway back and forth on this one, there is no right or wrong approach. One thing that is a huge no, no is to over buy to compensate for any deals you’ve received on one person alone. This will make the gifts feel cheap.
- The Journal.
Buy a cheap notebook or use an e-notebook to chart the budget. This will help keep track of how much you are spending on who, where and what. All of the gift lists, notes on discounts and prices should all be in this one place. Although you are keeping a log once you purchase a gift place the receipt in a pouch, just in case it needs to be returned later on for whatever reason.