According to ABC News consumer counseling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in January and February, and most of that traffic is propelled to their doors by holiday bills that haunt consumers like the ghost of Christmas past. Christmas shopping on a budget can help.
For many of us, while we have the lights up and the tree decorated, there isn’t anything under the Christmas tree yet. You may not have bought a single present or even budgeted for presents. Here are nine easy, last-minute Christmas shopping tips for busy people trying to do their shopping on a budget.
1. Make a shopping list
Write down the list of people you plan on buying gifts for. Critically consider who should be on your gift list and don’t be afraid to trim it. Start with your immediate family and close friends, and selectively add to your list from there.
2. Set a spending limit
Many people overspend on Christmas gifts by letting their emotions get the best of them. It’s easy to feel guilty when it comes to holiday spending. Do you need to spend $50 on every one of your nieces and nephews? Definitely not.
Figure out the total amount of money you want to spend on presents, and divide it up among each person on your list.
For example, if you decide to spend $400 on presents, that might be $150 for your spouse, $50 for your parents, and so on. And if this is the season to pop the big question, there are ways you can save money on an engagement ring.
It’s the thought that counts, not the price tag
3. Pay in cash
The easiest way to not go into debt is to use cash instead of credit to buy gifts. You’ll be forced to stick to your budget. When you use a credit card, it’s way too easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent and on who. Plus, an extra $10-$15 here and there go unnoticed but add up quickly.
Use the cash budget – you’ll thank yourself in January when you don’t have any Christmas debts to pay.
4. Shop by yourself
If you shop alone, you’ll likely spend less money, especially if you have friends with poor money habits. A shopping partner in crime can distract you from your plan by convincing you to buy something unplanned and unnecessary.
It’s very easy for someone else to spend your money.
This would look great on you!
You know what you should buy is…
Haven’t you been looking to get one of these?
5. Tis the season to give, not buy
Guilty! I love buying myself things I want, when I want them. And my wife Katie hates it because it’s one more thing she can’t get me for Christmas for the man who’s impossible to shop for.
In December we institute the ‘no shopping on Amazon for yourself rule.‘ If I want something, I can add it to my wishlist or ask for it for Christmas. Our rule also helps avoid splurging and spending less.
This is the season for giving, not receiving. If you find something you can’t live without, add it to your wishlist. If nobody buys it for you, pick it up on sale after Christmas for yourself.
6. Shop for sales at discount stores
To get the most out of your holiday budget check out the discount stores where you can find discounted items and great deals. To save even more look to buy discounted gift cards to pay for your purchases.
- TJ Max
- Dollar Stores
- Costco / Sams Club
- Big Lots
If you shop exclusively online, remember Amazon may not always have the best price. Be sure to check out eBay, Walmart, and specialty stores.
7. Don’t go crazy on the kids
How many toys can a child play with at once?
You got that right – one.
Try this gift-giving idea where each kid gets four presents:
- a want
- a need
- a wear
- a read
There are a lot of ways to save money on babies and toddlers too.
8. Wrap a lot
My wife Katie loves having many presents to open. And she loves socks. Instead of wrapping six pairs of socks in one box, I’ll divide them into a couple of boxes. Or if I buy her only three pairs of socks, I might wrap each pair individually.
If you are giving a Christmas gift that has several parts to it – tools, an outfit, kitchen utensils, – wrap up each item individually. Your recipient will have more to unwrap and a fun time doing it. If you care about doing an awesome wrapping job, learn how to wrap a present.
9. Buy a combined gift
You can save money while still giving great gifts by giving a slightly more expensive gift to two or more people instead of buying individual gifts for every person.
For example, if we purchase a Barbie Dream House for my three nieces they can all enjoy it, instead of buying a Barbie Corvette for each of them.
- For kids – video games, board games, play sets
- For couples – an experience, weekend getaway, new T.V.
- For parents – framed family photo, tickets to a show
Christmas Shopping On A Budget Reduces Stress
It’s a stressful time of year for many people with money being tight or having a lot of people to buy presents for. To avoid the big credit card bill that will be due in January and to keep from paying for gifts from now until next Christmas, have a shopping plan and a spending budget. Know how much you’ll spend on each person, what you’re going to buy them, and pay in cash.