Have you started to shop for the holidays? Here we are again, the holidays are here and the day after Thanksgiving is the official opening of the season. A couple retail stores are talking about starting on Thanksgiving. This confirms we are a consumer oriented country! I know some of you have started already. Here are my five (5) tips for doing it well!
Before you cringe at the idea of a budget, establish how much you are going to spend before you go shopping. Whatever you decide, you need to think how this impacts your personal annual budget. Remember a budget is the structure that helps you achieve your financial goals. Your holiday spending should be thought of when you do your annual budget.
Who is on your gift list? Is it just family and/or friends? Do you include the service providers such as the dog groomer, hair stylists, postal person, secretary, or co-workers? Where do you draw the line? I think a budget should determine the length of your list and how much you need to spend. Exchanging gifts are a holiday tradition, but they not have to be expensive. You can agree to limit how much you spend on gifts.
Sales, Discounts, Coupons & Online
Who says you have to pay retail for any gift! If you have the time, you can search or wait for sales or discounts, coupons or shop online. There is no reason to wait until a particular day to start shopping. If you know what you are looking for, you can start at anytime. You know you can take advantage of every sale or discount to get the very best deal and save money. By shopping all year long, you avoid that pressure of time to find the right gift.
Dare to be different
Look for bargains and buy discounted gift cards. Look for the things that really please the other person. One year, my children gave me a pizza from my favorite New York Pizza restaurant and I live in Los Angeles. For the movie lover, give discount movie tickets or pool your funds and give a Kindle. Give of yourself and perform services for the recipient. It can be washing the car, mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. You can make a gift for that some people on your list.
Don’t forget Charities
This is the time of year you should give of yourself to your favorite charity. I am not suggesting expensive giving, but of yourself. Many charities that provide dinners could use you to help distribute food or dinners. Your time is a great way to give back and you can feel good doing it. Isn’t that the true spirit of giving and it does not add $1 to your budget. You may want to include your children and make it a teachable moment.
Holiday shopping is a big deal! You need a plan or budget to control your spending. Given enough time and planning, you can really stretch your money and get through this season without debt. Take the time to figure out how much you can spend and work it out with the people you exchange holiday gifts. Go shopping with a list and don’t go off it! Think more about how you can give a meaningful gift without breaking your bank. Remember, you don’t need to lift the economy by yourself with your holiday shopping. How are you going to shop for the holidays?
Photo by: Jim Robinson Films