For many of us, the holidays can have a significant impact on our budget with increased spending for gifts, traveling, and social gatherings. Holiday gift purchases is often the biggest factor in spending, and there are several ways shoppers can approach this season.
Did you just make all your gift purchases within a few days following Thanksgiving? Or are you going to wait until the last minute only to end up handing out gift cards or cash because you couldn’t find the right gift? Everyone has his or her own strategy for managing the spending crunch. How can you better navigate holiday spending to stay within your budget?
1. Get organized and plan ahead. Set an overall limit on what you plan to spend. Make a plan and figure out what you will get for each person before you go to the store – every item, no matter how small the gift. That way you don’t get distracted by shiny objects and spend money wastefully.
2. Buy early. Try to buy gifts for friends and family throughout the year, whenever you see something you think would be really appropriate. Getting an early start on shopping is a good way to avoid the ‘panic buying/guilt buying’ things at the last minute.
3. Decide to start a separate savings for next Christmas. Open a Christmas Club account and stash away a little each month for holiday gifts. Consider a monthly direct deposit into the account or an automatic transfer from your checking account.
4. Watch for sales and promotions. If you have a favorite retailer, sign up for email about their sales and specials. When shopping online, look for free shipping which many retailers offer, even if you’re a last-minute shopper. And don’t forget to search for promo codes on the Internet.
5. Do it yourself. Why not make something yourself? Many people have hobbies where they make crafty or artsy items or tasty food. It could be woodworking, sewing, hand-crafted stationary, baking sweets, making salsa or candy or
chocolate sauce, cross-stitch, knitting scarves, or photography. People often appreciate a homemade item or gift that is personalized and can’t be store bought.
6. Hold a secret. That is have a secret Santa or other one-to-one gift exchange that limits the
number of gifts you’re buying.
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Remember that it isn’t always about the gifts. Spending time with family and friends, creating memories, and being thankful for what we have are great things about the holiday season.