You know, it seems like 2017 just started and here we are in October. Holiday shopping season is upon us. If you’ve been following my financial tips over the last few months you’ve been making progress in getting control of your finances. Will gift shopping season be a time of good cheer and warm satisfaction, or a time of stress and worry over money? Here are a few tips to keeping you on the right financial track for the Yuletide Season.
My number one tip, as always, is don’t take your credit cards with you to the store. Make a Christmas resolution to yourself to only spend money that you actually have. You might have to be choosier about what gifts to buy, and they may be more modest than what would like, but you’ve got enough time left before December to give some thought to your shopping.
This leads to my second point: Start early and take the time to make up a list. Santa has one, so should you. Make it specific—who you’re buying for, the specific item you’re looking for, and what you expect to spend. Then take the list with you when you shop and stick with it. Having an overall holiday budget floating around in your head is not good enough. Without a plan, you’ll likely get caught up in all the hype and overspend in the blink of an eye.
It’s certainly OK to take advantage of the post-Thanksgiving sales, but don’t permit yourself to stray too far from your list.
Next, do not shop while in a hurry or at the last minute. When you’re rushing you’ll spend more than you intended just to check the item off your list. Block out a specific time for shopping—make your first trip a leisurely one—get an idea of what’s available and at what prices. Take notes. Make your search an adventure, rather than a chore.
One of your aims is not to pile new debt on top of old. Many of the clients I see are still paying off their 2016 shopping as they enter the current season. Don’t let this happen to you!
And don’t hesitate to buy different types of gifts than you’re used to. Who wouldn’t appreciate an unusual food item—an exotic fruit jam, a pound of designer coffee, even a fruit cake. Even better, and even if you have no experience in the kitchen, I bet you could produce a carrot cake or a batch of peanut butter cookies. The time and thoughtfulness going into such items will be appreciated and treasured by your loved ones.
And think about it–you’re buying for friends and relatives who will be the first to understand if you need to cut back. With each gift consider writing a heartfelt note, being sincere about your feelings toward them and expressing why they mean so much to you. Most people can’t recall what they received last Christmas, but this will be a gift remembered for years to come.
The holidays can be particularly difficult for those unemployed or facing foreclosure. However, even if your situation is not that serious, we’re still living in tough economic times, and no one should be spending money they don’t have. Being financially responsible this holiday season will be a gift to yourself and to those you care about. And when Christmas Week finally rolls around, you’ll be one with your shopping complete who can enjoy the eggnog and the football. Have a great Holiday Season!
This post was written by clarkmiller