Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I am like a little kid around Christmas, especially if it snows! But for many it can be one of the most stressful times of the year. There’s loads of pressure to give, give, give, and it can really break the wallet. Here are five Christmas shopping tips that can help save you from the Christmas money pit.
1. Create Your Own Gift List
The big man in red has a larger population to take care of, but you and I can learn a thing or two from the Christmas-giving guru. Be like Santa and create a list with each person’s name you plan to give to. Next, set a price limit for each person. My wife and I set price limits on each other as well. This gives you a budget to work with and stay within. (For related reading, see: How to Talk to Your Family About Christmas Gift Budgets.)
2. Get Creative
Sometimes a handmade gift is the perfect item to give someone. For grandparents, we have made photo albums of our kids and last year my wife made pajama pants for our nieces and nephews. This year we are making photo bookmarks for godparents since they all like to read. My wife and I also believe that experiences are better than “stuff,” so you could purchase a cooking class or wine tasting, if you have room in your budget of course.
3. Remember Christmas Is About Giving, Not Buying
When you are browsing Amazon online or out at the mall, remember that Christmas is about giving and creating joy for others. As temping as it may be to buy for yourself (especially with all the sales), try and refrain from doing so. Take this time and focus on giving to others. This will help make sure you spend only the money you have budgeted.
4. Get Your Shopping Done All at Once by Shopping Alone
When you shop alone you get a couple benefits. First you don’t have to worry that your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or children will sneak a peek in your shopping bag. Second you won’t have to deal with someone pressuring you into buying something you don’t need. (For related reading, see: Why You Should Christmas Shop Early.)
5. Leave the Plastic in the Car
In today’s world of Amazon and Etsy, I know we don’t always go out to shop anymore, I’m an Amazon man myself. But when you do go out to the local store in search for that perfect gift, consider leaving your credit and debit cards in your car and just take cash. This isn’t a trick for everyone, but for those that need a little extra motivation, consider only taking cash when you shop to keep you honest with your Christmas giving list.
This Christmas season you can give yourself the great gift of starting the new year without loads of credit card debt by creating a plan. Let this small Christmas shopping plan then be the spark to budgeting and financial planning in the new year. (For more from this author, see: 10 Common Habits That Can Increase Wealth.)