According to ABC News, consumer counseling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking financial help in the first few months following Christmas. Most of those people come because of the holiday bills that haunt them. However, if you don’t want to be “haunted,” Christmas shopping on a budget can help.
For a lot of people, it’s a tradition to put the tree and lights up right after the Thanksgiving holiday, because Christmas is right around the corner! However, there may not be any presents under your beautiful tree yet. In fact, you might not even have a single present bought or possibly haven’t even budgeted for presents yet. Don’t fear, many people are in your situation. Here are nine easy, last-minute Christmas shopping tips for busy people trying to do their shopping on a budget at a reasonable cost.
1. Make a shopping list
It’s a good idea to write down a list of people you plan to purchase gifts for. Really think about who should be on your gift list. Don’t be embarrassed to cut some of those names down. Start with your immediate family and close friends. After that, choose the people who you think it’s important to buy presents for and who really mean a lot to you.
2. Set a spending limit
Most people overspend on Christmas gifts because they want to be kind by buying extravagant gifts for their loved ones. It’s very easy to feel guilty when it comes to holiday spending. But honestly, do you need to spend $50 on every niece and nephew? Hmm… probably not!
One way to help not overspend would be to figure out the total amount of money you would like to spend on presents and then divide it up among each person on your list.
For example, if you want to spend $400 on presents, that could be $150 for your spouse, $50 for your parents, and so on.
3. Pay in cash
The easiest way to prevent debt is to use cash instead of credit to buy gifts. If you use cash, you’ll be forced to stick to your budget. When you do use a credit card, it’s very easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent and who you’ve spent money on. An extra $10-$20 might not seem like a lot, but it does add up quickly.
4. Shop by yourself
If you shop alone, you’ll probably spend less money, especially if your friends have poor money habits. A shopping partner really isn’t a good thing. Your partner might distract you from your plan by convincing you to buy something unplanned or unnecessary. It’s very easy for someone else to spend your money by saying, “This would look great on you!” Another thing that might get your attention is, “Haven’t you been looking to get one of these?” Although it’s fun to shop with your friends, if you’re doing serious Christmas shopping it’s best to go alone. Also, who wants to be at the mall any longer than they have to be. If your friends go, you may be there hours later than expected.
5. Tis the season to give, not buy
Everyone loves buying things they want when they want them. But this is the season for giving, not receiving. If you find something you absolutely can’t live without, simply add it to your wish list. If nobody buys it for you, then you can pick it up when it’s on sale after Christmas for yourself. I hope you get lucky though, and Santa brings you everything you wish for. 🙂
6. Shop for sales at discount stores
Check out discount stores when shopping for Christmas presents to get the most out of your holiday budget. Some stores that would be great to check out for discounted prices would be Kohls, TJ Max, Marshalls, Dollar Stores, Costco/Sams Club (great to buy in bulk), and Big Lots. To save even more look to buy discounted gift cards to pay your purchases. Remember, if you strictly shop on the web, Amazon might not always have the best price. Be sure to check out eBay, Walmart, and specialty stores.
7. Don’t go crazy on the kids
The reality is, a child can only play with one toy at a time. 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 you could save money on babies and toddlers as well!
8. Wrap a lot
Mostly everyone loves to have many presents to open on Christmas days, even if they deny it. Instead of wrapping six pairs of socks in one box, divide them into a few boxes. Or if you only buy four pairs of socks, wrap them individually.
If you are giving a Christmas gift that has several parts to it- like tools, an outfit, or kitchen utensils, wrap up each item individually. Your recipient will have more to unwrap and a fun time doing it. Practice on your wrapping skills and be sure to get some festive holiday wrap so that you impress all of your loved ones.
9. Buy a combined gift
You can actually 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 each person.
For example, if you decide to purchase a Barbie Dream House for your three nieces they can all enjoy it, instead of buying a Barbie Corvette for each of them. Some combined gift ideas:
- 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 is a very stressful time of year for many people with money being tight or having a lot of people to purchase gifts for.
Happy Holidays! 🙂