Don’t Overspend This Holiday Season
As the year comes to an end, what many people may consider to be the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful time of the year: the holiday season. Consider these two scenarios:
Scenario 1: The Last-minute Shopper
Running around stores on Christmas Eve, wildly looking for something, anything, that you can buy for your mother and have it wrapped before the mall closes in 10 minutes. I’ve been there. (Or, if you’re like my family, we always forget to buy the tree until Christmas Eve, and end up stumbling through the attic for the ornaments and tree decorations at the last minute, ending up with a rather disorganized tree set up).
Scenario 2: The Shopper Who Spent Too Much
Having a great idea of what to buy your family members when you start shopping at the beginning of the season only to run out of money after getting past your significant other and your parents. This leaves your siblings with socks that you found at the dollar store. I’ve been there too.
But how do we avoid last-minute shopping and not deplete the funds in our bank accounts from overspending? I grew up off the phrase “we’ll make it work.” Well, actually, I grew up hearing “no” but it eventually turned into “we’ll make it work.” My parents weren’t ever able to run off to the store and buy me what I wanted when I wanted it. Some Christmases, the presents covered our living room floor. Others, they barely covered the tree skirt. It may have taken them a year or two to get me some of the presents I asked for… 19 years and counting, I’m still waiting for that dog. But they always made it work in the end. I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks to be able to make holiday shopping work for you too. Budget, start early and save money.
Have a Budget
When budgeting for holiday shopping, you first have to figure out who you’re shopping for. I generally make a spreadsheet to keep everything organized. Then figure out what you’re buying for everyone. I aim to spend an equal amount on everyone. So, if you’re shopping for five people and only have $100 total, you have a max of $20 for each person. And don’t be afraid to pitch in with some other family members to get a bigger, more expensive gift for someone. My sisters and I once pitched in to buy my dad a new (and expensive) soundbar for his TV. It’s definitely possible and is appreciated just as much as a smaller gift. Remember, gift giving isn’t about the price or the size, it’s the thought that counts.
There is never a bad time to start holiday shopping. It’s easier to take advantage of the best sales throughout the year rather than waiting for the end of the year to start your shopping. My sister has millions of hiding spots for the things she buys all year. She has a stash of toys for her son’s friends’ birthday parties that he gets to pick a toy out for every time.
Speaking of my sister…
Find Good Deals to Save Money
She’s the essence of a hunter-gatherer for the modern days of shopping. She scavenges the stores and the web (Instagram couponing accounts) for deals, and jumps at every chance she can get to find a good deal. With the technology we have today, couponing has really begun to move online.
You could also participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. You don’t have to go out to the stores to get the good deals. You can conveniently shop online while all of the deals are happening. But if you do plan on going out on Black Friday, try to look at the deals beforehand and come up with a plan of what you want, where to go, and how early to go to get it. The most efficient Black Friday shoppers have a plan that they never deviate from.
Another way to save money is by getting money back after purchasing your items. Certain credit cards offer percentages back from your spending. There also are apps that offer money back or points for shopping, which can be redeemed for gift cards. That’s the way my mom bought our gifts last year. She never spent a dime of her own money.
Hopefully these tips will prepare you for the holidays. There’s still enough time to get a head start on planning your spending around this holiday season. You can write a quick budget and begin looking for those deals now. And now, you also know that the second the new year comes around, you can start looking for more great deals for birthday gifts and for the holidays next year.
Regardless of whether you can get the best gifts or the most gifts for your loved ones, always remember that the most important part is spending that quality time with your loved ones.
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