Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday, it’d be best to regard the advice from popular holiday carols and “make your list and check it twice” to avoid a “bah-humbug” state of mind. Holidays incite conflicting reactions for many people; positive experiences gathering with family and friends and post-holiday stress of credit card bills for those gifts for family and friends. It's important to plan your spending so that you can dream about a white Christmas instead of shoveling yourself out of debt.
1) Make a List and Check It Twice
Really think about and make a decision about whose names should be on your list. Is it necessary to purchase gifts for immediate family, extended family, second cousins, distant relatives, or your significant other’s extended family? Determine where to “draw the line” with gift buying and stick to your list. “Secret Santa” exchanges or “family gifts” are great alternatives to buying individual gifts for each person and can make gift-giving more manageable and less costly.
2) Set Spending Limits – Everyone Gets a Price Tag!
After you make your list, the next step is to check it against your discretionary spending budget. Take a look at your monthly income, debts, and overall budget and be realistic about what you can spend. As you think about what to buy, estimate the cost of each item and write it down so you have an approximation of the total cost to determine what you can afford. Remember to check your list twice as you shop to ensure you stick to your budget.
3) Shop Smart – Compare Prices, Use Coupons, and Look for Those Sale Prices
It is wise to start holiday shopping early to give yourself enough time to find the best deals on the gifts you wish to purchase. Keep in mind Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales (see some of the leaked ads here), where you can save some serious money. Don’t be afraid to shop at warehouse stores when buying in bulk can save you money. Compare prices by using price comparison websites and tools, such as Google Shopping, PriceGrabber.com, Nextag, and Amazon.
4) When all Else Fails… Get Creative & Give Back
It’s the thought that counts. So, don't underestimate the power of a homemade gift. If finances are tight or if you’re the creative type, a homemade gift is the way to go. Homemade gifts reflect the style and creativity of the gift giver and have more sentimental value than store-bought gifts. Websites like Pinterest have great ideas for creative and useful homemade gifts. Materials to make these gifts are fairly inexpensive, and can be purchased at any local craft store.
Don’t forget to consider the charity of choice for your recipient. Most charitable organizations provide donation options to suit any budget. This type of gift warms the heart of the giver and the receiver and knocks the Scrooge out of us all.
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