Holidays are an Achilles heel in terms of shopping for most of the people. We love buying gifts for other people, even when we truly cannot afford to buy them. That is the problem.
We love decorating for Christmas. That is the second problem with our budget.
Most of us love all the holiday food and do a lot more cooking and baking than at any other time of year. That is the third problem.
We adore sales abound during the holiday season. That is a lot of spending!
Lastly, we comb the circulars, Black Friday ads, sale pages of the internet (of which there are infinite), and with all of that exposure to “stuff”, we’re need all kinds of things. Things that are very easy to rationalize purchasing when we are already purchasing so much. We do not experience this at any other time of year. Here are some strategies this year to keep yourself on track.
Establish a per-person budget
You can establish a maximum dollar amount that will be spent on each member of the family. The problem is all of those impulses buys that you see when shopping “Oh, wouldn’t this be great for so-and-so?”. The plan is to make a couple of “no spending” trips to both exorcise the shopping demon and get a comprehensive plan together.
You definitely have last year’s stocks of Christmas decorations lying in your attic or closet. Take them out and go through so that you know what kind of holidays decoration you have. This has the added benefit of making you feel like you do not need to impulsively purchase all the cutesy woodsy holiday stuff that you will encounter when shopping.
Use up all wrapping materials
Some years you ended up buying more rather than working with what you had, didn’t you? Not this year! No new gift wraps and colorful bags of ribbons until you use old stocks. The bad news is that this does mean not waiting until the last minute to wrap.
No new special occasion clothing
If you rarely dig in the back of your closet for clothes, then you often get new stuff when presented with a special occasion. Did you enjoy a shiny new outfit for the office holiday party? Sadly, it is a silly way to spend your money. The good news is that some stuff in the back of your closet has not seen the light of day in years, so no one will recognize it.
Most of you have a gifting station in your house. Occasionally, you receive a gift from some lovely, well-meaning person that is not useful for you and you keep it for years. Maybe you also pick up the occasional bargain throughout the year or encounter free swag. Giving those out this year! But try to keep track of who gave you what so as not to re-gift back to the same person. It is a lifesaver and a money saver. Most of those items that were gifts given to you were very dearly appreciated – more than once, actually.
Speaking of after Christmas sales
The sales are so good after Christmas that they can be a useful tool for saving money later in the year. Take advantage of them. But this year you should establish an appropriate amount of money that will be dedicated to doing so and making a list of the sorts of things you will be buying. Heading to the sales without a list or a finite budget is akin to throwing money into a hole from which it may never return.
No credit card Christmas
It means, no interest will be paid at any time for any of your purchases. Your vow is to keep your spending within the limit of what you can actually pay for right now. Honestly, the dumbest thing you could do is rack up a bunch of debt and then crunch yourself in the new year trying to pay it off. No way!
Cut back elsewhere
You could try to be more conservative with your meal choices and cut back on dining out, just through holidays. It is hard to avoid a meal out when you are tromping around malls and department stores all evening after work, but avoiding it simply requires planning.