Whether it’s just one or two people you still need to buy for, or everyone on your list, last-minute Christmas shopping can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, or you’re having trouble finding what you have in mind. It’s times like these when we tend to throw budgets to the wind. Though as of this writing we still have a full week of shopping days ahead of us, with every day that passes, the pressure builds to do whatever it takes to get the job done! And if that means spending twice as much as you planned, so be it.
Unfortunately, this often leads to buyers’ remorse in the New Year, when we’re nursing a holiday spending hangover. As much as your kids may love the expensive toys you break down and buy in last-minute desperation this year, they may pay the price not only in you having to cut back on basics in the weeks and months ahead, but also living with the stress they pick up on from you and anyone else in your household dealing with the financial strain of it all.
Bottom line, the pressure for finding the “perfect” gift is not worth the trade-off if it means spending more than you can afford. Before finishing (or starting) your Christmas shopping this year:
1) Review and revise your budget (presuming you’ve made one and, if not, get to it!). This means looking at the amount you want to spend as a whole on your holiday gifts, as well as how much you want to spend on each person. If you’ve already started your shopping, make note of how much you’ve already spent and whatever is left over in your original budget is what should be divided among the people you still need to buy for.
2) Take your list with you on every shopping trip. This list should include names, items you have in mind and, most importantly, the dollar amounts you have set aside to spend on them. Even if you have the list memorized, having it with you lends it more weight psychologically, making it harder to talk yourself into veering from the game plan.
3) Only take as much cash as you have in your budget to spend. And leave all your cards at home. This way, it’s harder to be tempted to spend more than you can afford.
4) Avoid impulse gifts. Any deal “too good” to pass up is just the kind of purchase to avoid at all cost!
5) Take a friend or family member who is more frugal and focused than you. Of course, the key is sharing with them first the importance of sticking to this list (i.e., your budget).