Christmas Shopping on a Budget


Did you know that consumer counseling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in January and February, and most of that traffic is propelled to their doors by holiday bills that haunt consumers like the ghost of Christmas past? Christmas shopping on a budget can help.

  1. Make a shopping list

Write down the list of people you plan on buying gifts for. Critically consider who should be on your gift list and don’t be afraid to trim it. Start with your immediate family and close friends, and selectively add to your list from there.

  1. Set a spending limit

Many people overspend on Christmas gifts by letting their emotions get the best of them. It’s easy to feel guilty when it comes to holiday spending. Do you need to spend $50 on every one of your nieces and nephews? Definitely not.

Figure out the total amount of money you want to spend on presents and divide it up among each person on your list. Not everyone will necessarily get the same amount but divide it whichever way works out for you. Remember – it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag.

  1. Pay in cash

The easiest way to not go into debt is to use cash instead of credit to buy gifts. You’ll be forced to stick to your budget. When you use a credit card, it’s way too easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent and on who. Plus, an extra $10-$15 here and there go unnoticed but add up quickly.

  1. Shop by yourself

If you shop alone, you’ll likely spend less money, especially if you have friends with poor money habits. A shopping partner in crime can distract you from your plan by convincing you to buy something unplanned and unnecessary. It’s very easy for someone else to spend your money.

  1. Tis the season to give, not buy

Guilty! I love buying myself things I want, when I want them. In December we institute the no shopping on Amazon for yourself rule. If I want something, I can add it to my wish list or ask for it for Christmas. Our rule also helps avoid splurging and spending more.

This is the season for giving, not receiving. If you find something you can’t live without, add it to your wish list. If nobody buys it for you, pick it up on sale after Christmas for yourself.

  1. Shop for sales at discount stores

To get the most out of your holiday budget check out the discount stores where you can find discounted items and great deals. Say Costco, Walmart or Winners?

  1. Don’t go crazy on the kids

How many toys can a child play with at once? You got that right – one.

Try this gift-giving idea where each kid gets four presents: a want, a need, a wear, a read.

  1. Wrap a lot

Many people love having lots of presents to open. Instead of wrapping six pairs of socks in one box, you can divide them into a couple of boxes.

If you are giving a Christmas gift that has several parts to it – tools, an outfit, kitchen utensils, – wrap up each item individually. Your recipient will have more to unwrap and a fun time doing it.

  1. Buy a combined gift

You can save money while still giving great gifts by giving a slightly more expensive gift to two or more people instead of buying individual gifts for every person.

For example, if we purchase a Barbie Dream House for my three nieces they can all enjoy it, instead of buying a Barbie Corvette for each of them.

For kids – video games, board games, play sets

For couples – an experience, weekend getaway, new T.V.

For parents – framed family photo, tickets to a show

Christmas Shopping on A Budget Reduces Stress

It’s a stressful time of year for many people with money being tight or having a lot of people to buy presents for. To avoid the big credit card bill that will be due in January and to keep from paying for gifts from now until next Christmas, have a shopping plan and a spending budget. Know how much you’ll spend on each person, what you’re going to buy them, and pay in cash.

Give yourself the gift of starting the new year with less debt and more money in your pocket!

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