How to Stick to Your Holiday Shopping Budget
With the holidays approaching, you’ve probably started thinking about what gifts to give to whom. Equally important is creating and sticking to a holiday shopping budget that you can afford. The following tips can help ensure that you stay within an affordable limit of your gift fund and make smart decisions about how, when, and what to purchase.
- Set Price Limits for People on Your Gift List – Get started by making a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to and assign a dollar amount to each name. This is helpful to keep track of everyone you intend to purchase a gift for and more importantly, can help prevent you from inadvertently overspending on any of them.
- Do Price Checks/Comparisons on Gifts You Plan to Buy – One of the best tools at your disposal is the ability to negotiate. If you find a gift you really want to purchase, check online to see if you can find a lower price. Many retailers will match the price if you find a legit offer from one of their competitors—it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Avoid Waiting Until the Last Minute to Shop – It’s easy to procrastinate on your shopping due to the heavy traffic, crowded parking lots, and throngs of people in the stores. However, if you wait until the last minute, gift options will be limited and you may be tempted to purchase something outside of your budget.
- Look for Deals Every Day, Not Just on Black Friday or Cyber Monday – The attention and hype from retailers emphasize that the biggest deals are available on these two days. However, you can find deals at any time of the holiday season. It might take longer to locate them, but doing so will help you stick to your holiday shopping budget.
- Keep an Eye on Your Spending – Once you start purchasing gifts, it is essential to keep track of where your funds are going. Take advantage of online banking tools to help stay up to date on expenses as they post to your account. This will also help you adjust your price limit list as mentioned above if you need to make changes for certain gifts.
- Consider Homemade Gifts – Nothing says you care like something you make on your own from scratch. Use your creativity and originality to come up with items, such as a photo collage or homemade baked goods.
- Set Money Aside for More Expensive Gifts – You may need to budget for expensive items, and it makes sense to do this in advance of your purchasing decision. Planning and anticipating what these gifts cost will ensure success in sticking to your holiday shopping budget.
- Stick to Your Shopping List – Once you’ve created your list of items to purchase, do your best to follow it. It’s easy to get distracted with discounted sales and impulse buys, so consider printing your list or having it accessible at your fingertips (like on your mobile device) to ensure you stay on track.
- Don’t Forget About Shipping Costs – It is also important to factor in shipping costs—both for having it sent to your location after purchase and getting it sent to the person receiving the gift. Once you have created your shopping list, make a new column where you can include estimated shipping costs.
The holidays are a fast-paced and busy time of the year, but advance preparation will help you manage your expenses efficiently. By following the above tips, you can stick to your holiday shopping budget and adjust if needed. For more information on how to stick to a budget, please visit the Spending and Budgeting section of our website.