The Christmas shopping season is now in high gear, evidenced by the crowded shopping malls and traffic-clogged roads. It’s easy to get carried away by the spirit of the season, but when the warm fuzzy feeling you get when giving presents fades, you could be left with nothing but an empty savings account—or even worse, mountains of debt. Here’s what you should do to keep your holiday spending in check.
Set a budget and track your spending.
Make a list, check it twice. Take note of all the people you want to give presents to and set a spending limit for each of them. Make sure that everything totals to a figure you’re comfortable with. Then, stick to those limits. It really is that simple.
Don’t get carried away by sales.
Waiting for holiday sales to do your Christmas shopping is a great way to find deals, but it’s also easy to go overboard. Would your mother really appreciate that electric “fat-burning” belt you bought because it was 70% off? And let’s be real, your cousins are never going to use those discounted fuzzy PJs, because (newsflash) we live in the tropics. Just stick to your list and you’re good.
Remember: You don’t have to accept every party invitation.
Yeah, the Christmas season is the perfect time to catch up with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean that you’re obliged to attend every single get-together (and participate in their respective gift exchanges), especially if you’re on a tight budget. Just let your friends know that finances are tight, and if your friends are the good kinds, they’ll totally understand.
Use your credit card wisely.
Credit cards make shopping much faster, but don’t use them unless you’re sure that you can pay off your balance every month. Credit card debt can balloon faster than you think, and it can do serious damage to your credit score as well.
Consider giving homemade gifts.
Few presents are as thoughtful and personal as a homemade one. Sure, they’re more time-intensive, but they’ll be get your creative juices going while giving your wallet a break. It’s a win-win!
Do a family exchange gift instead of buying something for everyone.
If you celebrate Christmas with a huge extended family, it’s just not feasible to give everybody a present (or, at least, a good one). Propose doing an exchange gift instead so you can buy each other decent presents you actually want (and set a minimum and maximum price just to be safe).
Quit buying things for yourself.
When you’re out shopping, it’s inevitable that you’ll spot something you want for yourself. But now’s not the time for treating yourself. Trust me, whatever it is, it can wait until the new year.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t give more than you can afford.
Contrary to the messaging that holiday advertising is trying to shove down our throats, Christmas isn’t about getting each other the biggest, shiniest present. You don’t have to buy presents for everyone, and don’t feel pressure to spend as much as others do on presents. Chill out and you’ll probably enjoy the holidays even more.
What are your tipid tips for Christmas shopping?