Here are five steps to help you put together a plan to avoid spending too much this year.
1. Set a specific budget.
The first thing you should do is figure out exactly how much money you have to spend. Then, make a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for, including your children’s teachers, co-workers, your mail carrier as well as friends and family. Then, divide your total budget between everyone on your list.
Once you’ve found a gift for someone, cross them off your list. It’s tempting to pick up additional gifts here and there if you see something that reminds you of someone or if you want to add a little something special but these things add up quickly and can completely blow your budget. Once you cross someone off the list, you’re finished shopping for them.
And here’s one more budget tip. Pay with cash. By using cash, you guarantee that you’ll only spend what you can afford.
2. Shop online.
One of the best things about online shopping is the ability to comparison shop. You can check prices from many different stores almost instantaneously, making sure you always get the best deal. There are also plenty of apps and websites available where you can get coupon codes to save even more.
Another benefit of shopping online is there isn’t as much temptation as in the store. Even if you’re just browsing online, there aren’t any flashy displays or pushy salespeople to try to tempt you to spend more.
3. Don’t forget the extras.
There are a lot of costs that add up even after the gifts are purchased, including wrapping paper, tape, gift tags, greeting cards, postage, and more. Don’t forget to factor these extra expenses into your budget.
If you’re looking for something specific and expensive, like a TV, smartphone, tablet, or major appliance, check online prices regularly. When you see a good deal, take advantage of it. Some retailers may offer free delivery and installation or even a gift card worth several hundred dollars if you purchase at the right time.
For smaller items, it often pays to compare. Some stores may offer discounts for buying a certain number of toys or spending a set amount of money or they may give you a gift card or coupon to use on a future purchase.
5. Go for alternate gift ideas.
Homemade gifts aren’t for everyone. Let’s be honest, most children would rather have a store-bought than a hand-knitted scarf. But there are a lot of people on your list that would be moved by a handmade gift that you took to time to make especially for them.
Bake cookies for the mail carrier, invite your friends over for a big potluck dinner instead of gifts, or suggest a Secret Santa exchange instead of buying gifts for all the adults in your family. You never know, there may be other people on your gift list looking for ways to save money, too.