Shopping during the holidays is fun, exhausting, but also expensive. You have to consider what you and your family need for the season, where to buy them, and how much you're willing to pay.
It's that time of the year when everyone is trying to connect and reconnect with family and friends. There's a lot of shopping and the stores are taking advantage of the opportunity to make some extra gain by hiking the price of most items.
People are buying gift items for family and friends. There are lots of celebrations and parties around. Lots of people are traveling across States and cities.
Often the whole holiday hype culminates in a January where many people are seeking financial help and support for all the bills knocking on their doors.
You can avoid the trap of unnecessary bills in January and February by shopping on a budget. Whether it's for a family party or for the Christmas tree, here are some tips to staying within budget for your holiday shopping.
The usual thing is to wait for the holiday frenzy before you start shopping. Unfortunately, this doesn't help much. Apart from the adrenaline rush, there's really nothing special about shopping in the frenzy. Plus, the high prices of items make it a reasonable choice to shop ahead.
So instead of waiting for late November to start shopping, begin at the end of summer. Stock up on presents and canned foods.
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Have a shopping list and stick to it
When it comes to spending money, there's always a need or a want. If you walk into a shop and just will yourself to shop anything, you'll shock yourself. Everything on the shelf will look important and enticing.
You want to try out that new chocolate. You love those pair of sneakers and want them for your little boy. The list is endless.
But having a list and sticking to it will ensure you get what is necessary for you and your family.
Set a limit for your spending
Even with a list, you may still want to add a few extras to your shopping cart. That's not entirely out of place because you may get to the mall and discover something that you really need.
However, you can keep this excess in check by setting a defining exactly how much you are willing to spend shopping and engaging in other activities during the holidays. Your set limit will help you decide what is necessary and what can wait for another time of the year.
Avoid shopping with a group
When people go shopping in a group, there's a higher tendency that they'll spend way more than they budgeted. That's why you should go shopping by yourself.
If you are shopping on a budget then you don't need anyone helping you see "that shirt that will fit", or "that bangle your wife will love."
You already decided what you believe is needed in your house so, except the others understand that you don't need the extra company. Go ahead and meet your budget goals without apology.
Consider shopping at discount shops
Whether it's with an app or at a physical shop, you can get discounts on the items you are shopping if you check in the right places. Most physical shops offer price discounts, especially on black Fridays and Cyber Mondays.
So if you're shopping within the holiday, you should aim to shop on any of these days. You will get virtually everything you need at a reasonable rate.
You can also buy gift cards that you will use to pay for your items at the store. Many stores offer this option too.
Or you can use an app that compares prices – eg. ShopSavvy – to find out which store offers the best price for the items you want to buy. This is definitely easier than going to the physical shops to compare prices.
Wrap a lot of items
Truth is, everyone wants that feeling of unwrapping many gift boxes. So make it happen for your family.
Wrap every gift individually, even if they're the same type. This means that if you buy three sets of undies for your preteen son, you should wrap them as three different gift items for him to open.
Also, if you buy a toy train for your 5-year-old, then wrap each coach in a separate sheet and let him have the joy of unwrapping each and assembling them. You can do this with any gift item that has many detachable parts.
It's easy to spend more if you go using your credit card. You'll find yourself adding little bucks "that will eventually matter". But if you go with cash, you're more likely to stick with your plans. You already know that if you run out of cash then you're out of shopping. So try shopping with cash instead.
Why shop on a budget?
The holidays mark the end of a year and the beginning of another, not the end of the world. You definitely don't want to wake up anytime in January and February to pay yet another debt from your holiday spending.
You actually have a lot more to do in the new year. The least of which is feeding and maintaining your utilities. So don't blow up your bank account.
Your budget will vary between the years depending on what you earn. Don't sweat it if the resources aren't there in a particular year. Make the best of the season with whatever you have.
As a parent, you will need to help your kids understand why you have to spend on a budget. But try to make sure that they do not miss out on the fun of the season. Create an atmosphere where the love and bond you share with each other trumps whatever gift they receive, however big or small.
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