‘Tis the season where just about everyone goes into debt trying to put on smile on the faces of the ones they love most. Though the holiday season is a time for giving, going above and beyond what you can actually afford will have you stressed out by the New Year. If you want to buy meaningful presents for your friends and family without creating a headache for yourself, consider using these savvy holiday shopping tips below:
Create a Budget
Before ever going into a store or looking online for things to buy for the holidays, start with a budget. Determine how much you can afford to spend this holiday season. Start by making sure that all of your regular monthly expenses will be covered first. Then, look at your savings, and excess income to see what you have to work with. If your budget is much smaller than you’d like, there are short-term loans and credit card offers that you could apply for to boost your budget just a bit. Just be sure that if you’re going to go this avenue that you have the means to repay the balance in full within a few weeks to avoid late fees and other charges.
Make a List
Once you have an idea of what you can afford to spend on holiday shopping, create a list of everyone you need to purchase gifts for. Then, divvy the budget up amongst those on your list. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be an equal amount per person as your spouse might get a more expensive gift than your boss, coworker, or best friend. However, essentially, you want to give everyone a limit or cap on the amount you’ll spend.
Think of Meaningful Gift Ideas
Everyone wants their relatives and friends to be pleased with the gifts they purchase, but spending more than you can afford on something isn’t the wisest decision. Instead, sit down and think of gifts that are meaningful while still affordable. For each person on your list above, think about their personalities or personal interests and look for gifts that match.
For example, maybe you can’t afford that flat screen for your husband this year, but maybe you could afford a soundbar or a new comfy chair for him to watch his games in. Maybe your mother is into health and wellness and would appreciate a basket filled with tea bags, essential oils, scented candles, and bath salts.
Don’t underestimate the significance of handmade gifts either. If you’re the creative type, a present that took time and effort to make speaks wonders. You could paint pictures, crochet or knit scarves, bake cookies and brownies, put together gift baskets with a collection of small gifts in them, or even take family photos and make decorative picture frames.
Aimlessly shopping around this time of year will cause you to go off the budget fairly quickly. You get caught up in all the unique things available and purchase things you likely don’t even need (but most likely can’t afford). Online shopping is a lot more convenient in that you can stick to searching for products you want and also find a ton of deals. Many stores offer online exclusive discounts and bonuses that you can take advantage of. Shopping online for the holidays also allows you to compare the prices of various competitors to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. What’s even greater is you can skip the chaos and long lines this time of year brings.
Track Your Spending
The only way to make sure you stay on budget is to figure out a method for tracking your spending. After making a purchase online or in stores, mark off on your list who you’ve already made a purchase for and how much you spent. If there is money leftover in the spending limit you had for that particular person, you can either shop for more gifts or add those funds to another person’s gift. Repeat this process until you’re done your entire list. Also, keep the receipts just in case you find better deals elsewhere before the holidays. You can easily return those items and get them for a better price and save even more money.
The holidays bring out the best (and worst) in all of us. With so many advertisements, deals, and new things to buy, it can be easy to spend so much that you end up in debt a few weeks later. Rather than haphazardly searching for the right gifts for you and your loved ones this year, use the holiday shopping tips listed above to get things they’ll love that you won’t have to suffer for later.