In a couple of days, we turn the page of the calendar to December. For many Americans, that means gift-giving season. When you do your holiday shopping, it can bust your entire annual budget. Even if you’ve been on track all year, a few extra holiday gifts can leave you reeling when you balance your budget at the end of the year. Here are some tips for making your holiday shopping budget this year.
Set a Dollar Amount
Holiday shopping can take on a life of its own. Before you know it, if you don’t have a plan, you’re spending thousands of dollars on all the cool stuff you buy on impulse because you know someone will like it. Before you buy a single thing, set your budget.
If you’re buying gifts as a group, such as a family gift exchange or a secret Santa at work, set a budget everyone needs to follow.
Make a List
I’ve done this before, and it helped me when I had a lot of gifts to buy. I made a spreadsheet of everyone who should get something. Then I added the budget and a field to enter what I purchased. That way, nothing fell through the cracks, and I wasn’t scrambling to buy last-minute gifts.
If you like to do your shopping online, Amazon makes this easy for you. Go to your Wishlists and click on Your Friends at the top. Then you can add everyone you need to buy for and add gift ideas.
I know it’s still November, and we’ve already passed Black Friday, but don’t put off your shopping any longer. When you have to buy things last minute, that’s the easiest way to blow your budget. Plus, shopping allows you ample time to wrap gifts and ship things. There are often delays in deliveries during the holidays, so get things out now.
Today is Cyber Monday, so make your online wishlists and buy some of these deals now.
Choose Experiences Over Things
Do you worry that you or your loved ones have too much stuff? Here’s an idea that can work for any budget. Focus on experiences rather than things. You can spend money on this, such as tickets to a concert or dinner and a bottle of wine. Or you can keep it low or no cost.
A friend once shared this idea with me, and I loved it. While her husband was in law school, she printed out a collection of recipes for different grain bowls. She compiled them in a binder and wrapped them for Christmas. Then, her husband could pick one recipe each week, and she’d make enough portions that he had a healthy lunch every day.
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