The holiday season celebrates the best in mankind, whatever holiday you celebrate. But gift-giving holidays also brings out the worst in people: greed, lack of self-control, over-indulgence, burnout. If you overspend in December, plan on heartache in January. Here are holiday shopping tips and ways to save money on budget Christmas presents.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Plan how much you’ll spend overall and divide it among gift recipients. In “hard candy Christmas” years, when money is tighter, pare down across the board. Follow the same budget but cut down the individual amounts.
Plan, plan, plan.
Begin early and make lists of items that people on your Christmas list need or want. Watch prices on these items and look for sales.
Make no excuses.
Don’t apologize for the size or cost of your Christmas presents to others. You owe explanation for why you couldn’t or didn’t get what they expected. If anyone–including a child–is dissatisfied, shame on them. Maybe next year they’ll get a rock.
Don’t play the matching gift game when holiday shopping.
Give in love and spend what you feel you can afford. If others spend more, that is their choice. You do not have to run out and find a matching gift. Manufacturers and merchandisers count on Christmas guilt to drive overspending. Don’t get sucked into it. It will ruin your holiday worrying about how you’ll pay for what you overspent.
Skip Christmas gift exchanges with people you don’t know.
You have no idea what to get them and up trading gift cards. If you are in charge of holiday planning, suggest contributing to a charity. Don’t make gift exchanges more than a frugal $5. Play a trading game where the gifts circulate and no one knows who brought what. It is easier and no one leaves feeling like an idiot or cheapskate.
Not giving in to pressure.
Guilt-driven Christmas shopping is a one way trip to psychotherapy and misery. You cannot make up for lost time with money or presents. Plus, the best Christmas presents are homemade, frugal or gifts of time spent together. When I was four, my parents put together a little baking set for me (this was pre-Easy-Bake oven). We had tons of fun making cakes. They have since divorced and I treasure those memories of happy times together.
Look for Discounts
Check your mail, newspapers, magazines and coupons and online for coupon codes. Ask stores about coupons, Many will text coupon codes to you. Clip paper coupons and organize by store, Keep them in the car or in your purse. Note on your planner calendar when sales begin and end. Set text alerts.
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