Now is the time to start thinking about your holiday shopping. Why start now? What happens to a lot of us is we head out to the malls and stores on Black Friday or start shopping online on Cyber Monday, and we don’t have a plan.
Not only we do we not have a plan we don’t have any money budgeted for gifts. Then January rolls around after we’ve spent too much, and we carry a balance on our credit cards for months and rack up interest charges.
The $25 sweater ends up costing $125 when it’s paid for three years later.
Oh, I’ll pay for it with my tax refund
and then the car transmission blows up, or somebody gets sick, or we have to take an emergency trip somewhere.
Wow, I didn’t realize I spent so much money on toys for my kids or nieces and nephews. That’s depressing. I think I need to take a quick cruise to the Bahamas to ease my mind.
Then we really start to get into trouble. There’s a better way.
1. Set a spending goal (and stick to it)
Starting now, pick a total dollar amount you want to spend on your gift-giving. It’s whatever amount is comfortable for you.
Once you have an amount, make a list of who you need to buy gifts for. Just the nice people, not the naughty ones.
Then put dollar amounts next to each name. See if you’re over budget with your spending. If you are you either need to trim your list or your dollar amounts.
2. Trim the card list
And when it comes to cards remember those stamps start adding up too. The rule in our house is to keep our list to 50 names max.
If we haven’t seen you or heard from you in two or three years, sorry – you’re off the card list.
Which is too bad for you because our cards are hilarious.
3. Spend cash
Pay for your gifts in cash and avoid using credit cards. The cash budget for gift buying will keep you from busting your budget.
4. Give gifts that matter
Name me one thing you received for a gift last year. Hard to do right?
It’s because we give gifts for the sake of giving (and often too many) when we could be giving gifts that are thoughtful or build memories.
- Homemade crafts
- Tickets to a play
- A photo session
Consider a meaningful gift. It will be much better received than just any old gift grabbed at the Target checkout line.
5. Give the gift of time
When it comes to family, if you’re trying to pay off debt, shelling out a bunch of dough for gifts is not how you can pay off your debt faster.
But you do have time to give. And it can have much more value than another trinket that forgotten in two months (or two weeks).
- IOU for babysitting (I want that)
- Car wash
- Scavenger hunt around town (this one is pretty awesome)
We all have good intentions of how we’re going to pay off the credit card in January. But most times those good intentions fall flat for all kinds of reasons. Usually, it’s because we spent too much on too many people.
With a holiday shopping budget, you’ll have a stress-free time. When you make your shopping list the right way, you’ll avoid the January credit card blues most people get.
Question: Do you have your shopping list and spending plan ready for the upcoming season yet? Please leave a comment below.