Holiday Shopping With A Plan

Posted by Marian

Holidays are here, and everyone’s beaming with excitement. Oh yes, it’s the most magical season of the year! The stockings are hung, the hot cocoa is poured, and your credit card bill is brimming with oops! Holiday charges.

Going into excessive seasonal debt isn’t inevitable. You can have a merry and joyous holiday without letting your spending snowball out of control. Here are ways on how you can do your holiday shopping with a plan.

Plan Early

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The holidays may be weeks away, but now’s the time to get started. Some of the best holiday sales happen long before December. That’s when you want to start stocking up on non-perishable essentials like cookware, decorations, gifts, and canned foods. Otherwise, you risk paying more later, or worse, getting stuck with the last dented can of green beans on the shelf.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

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Your initial plan is to buy a gift for your little niece and nephew; then, after a few hours, you end up buying more items like the latest video games and even a kitchen home device that’s on sale. You end up with your willpower and your bank account drained. Yes, you failed your self-made budget in an instant!

Sounds familiar? The key to avoiding seasonal overspending is setting a budget — and sticking to it. Before buying anything, take a hard look at your finances and see what you can reasonably afford this holiday season inside your overall dollar amount. Set aside smaller budget buckets for categories like food, gifts, and household items.

Avoid the Debt Trap

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Ouch! If you don’t want to spend the next six months digging out of debt, you’ll need to stay on budget and avoid putting seasonal extras on your credit card. Pay for holiday purchases with your debit card to minimize overspending. This way, you can only spend the money you already have in your account.

Check Your Shopping List

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It feels nice to give, but you may end up feeling naughty when a giant credit card bill arrives. Before you put every person you know on this year’s holiday gift list, take a moment to think it through. Can you afford to give gifts to everyone on your list? Trim your list down where you can, and then make a list of the people you need to buy for. Even better, figure out what you’re going to get each person, along with a budgeted amount you will spend, and stick to your plan.

Keep Your Holiday Meals Simple

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You can prepare simple yet elegant and sumptuous holiday meals without overspending. Holiday meals can be a budget-buster, especially if you’re the one dishing up for all the goodies – so you have to be extra careful with your budget.

Calculate how much food is needed, then plan to prepare just a little extra. If you are gathering with others, split the cost and the cooking duties. Assign each person one or two dishes to prepare and let everyone know how many people will be attending to plan their servings accordingly.

Don’t Jump the Gun on Holiday Sales

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Sure, it feels great to score a killer deal on the must-have item on your partner’s wish list. However, if you’re prone to impulse shopping, it’s probably not a great idea to rush to buy online or storm the mall on Black Friday with cash in hand. Instead, select necessary sale items in advance, but only those items, and pay using your debit card or digital wallet linked to your debit.

Check for Affordable Alternatives

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It’s easy to miss the target for your holiday budget when you are faced with tempting deals online. So, how can you resist the sweet deals? While you may want to splurge on Christmas gifts for your loved ones, do you need to buy presents for every single one on your family tree? For more prominent family and friends, suggest a “Secret Santa” idea where everyone believes for one other person selected randomly. If some or all of you are meeting up virtually, you can always mail your gifts or drop them off on the recipient’s porch.

Spend More on Quality Time and Not Expensive Activities

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If you typically spend a lot of time dining out at restaurants or taking vacations around the holidays, this could be the year to pare back. Focus on easy and inexpensive ways to spend time with friends and loved ones.

You can try these activities:

  • Family game nights
  • Caroling at home
  • Baking seasonal treats
  • Decorating a holiday tree
  • Hosting a virtual Zoom party
  • Holiday movie nights
  • Check your local community calendar for other free or low-cost events.

Reuse Old Decorations

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It’s easy to get sucked in by the sparkling aisles of holiday decor at every big-box store. Everything that glimmers seem to call you by name and beg you to make that purchase, so don’t. You can probably make do with what you already have. Make new ornaments with your family, rather than buying expensive retail ones. Remember that the true magic of the season isn’t in animated lawn reindeer and life-sized nutcrackers.

Switch to Handmade Gifts

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If you cannot afford costly gifts, consider going handmade. It’s customized and has that personal touch that makes every creation unique and special. Don’t worry if you don’t have an idea yet on how to get started. There are countless DIY videos and how-to blogs out there for items your crew might enjoy, like homemade camping kits, creative journals, and custom blankets. Pick your favorite and make a big batch to split into individual gifts. You could also opt to write a heartfelt letter to someone you admire and appreciate or donate to a relative’s favorite cause in their name.

Don’t Obsess on Your Holiday Spending

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Many people obsess over spending more during holidays! While you deserve to splurge because you have worked hard for it all year, you have to be more practical nowadays. There’s no need to spend too excess during the holidays when cheaper alternatives are to choose from. When the shopping bug bites, try to relax and savor the small things. Saving money on a tight budget is easier when you focus on the true joy of the holidays — showing love and kindness to others.

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