Christmas Shopping Season is just about to take over everything many of us do for the next few weeks . . . which can be so much fun, but can also lead to a lot of stress and over-spending (yikes!) Here are a few tips to keep you grounded as you shop:
1. Make a list. Write down every single person that you'll give gifts to this Christmas, including immediate & extended family, teachers, school bus drivers, friends and neighbors. (Check out this free Christmas list download. to get you started.)
2. Decide how much you're going to spend on each person, and write that amount down next to their name on your list before shopping. Think about whether or not there are ways to make more inexpensive gifts for some people like baked goods or consider a small gift wrapped up with a sweet note. (I love giving out the Bath & Body Works hand soaps wrapped up with a pretty bow & note for my children's Sunday School teachers.)
3. BEFORE YOU SHOP, determine your entire Christmas budget. Right down to the penny. (Yes, this one is hard!) Beyond your per-person spending limit, know exactly how much you'd like to spend before heading out to shop. (Be sure to include extra money for gift wrap, tape, tags, etc.)
4. Anticipate how you'll spend your “savings”. (Note: this is a bone of contention in our home!) My hubby is one incredibly passionate penny pincher, so he feels that if we get a great deal on an item, those savings should not be spent during the Christmas season. However, I always want to spend the full amount on each person that I budget on my list, so if I find a great deal I'll buy them more great deals! This is not the greatest way to spend my savings, but we have so many people purchase for our family who are incredibly generous. (And I want to be generous right back!) However, if your budget is tight this Christmas, don't spend those savings on more Christmas gifts. Instead, put it right into a savings account. (Wouldn't it be fun to fund a savings account with extra Christmas spending money because of your deals?)
5. Choose how you'll shop. Using cash will definitely help maintain control of your spending over the holidays, however I know that can be difficult when so many deals are available online. If you shop online, put your budgeted amount into your checking account and use a debit card. If you absolutely are set on using a credit card, be sure to write down every single purchase on your list so that you don't over-spend. As we all know, those credit cards can be a HUGE budget buster!
6. Plan what you'll spend on giving generously to those in need. Last year I shared how I just about felt gived out by the time December was over. I realized that much of this was because while I happily said yes to every place to donate early in the Holiday season, by the middle of December I was done: and so was my budget. This year I'm going to have an honest discussion with my husband about what we want to give together so that we can choose to give to those that we both feel most passionate about. (To see more on giving over the holidays, you may want to check out The Advent Conspiracy.)