Can you believe that is already October? That means we have less than 3 months until Christmas. Believe it or not, it is time to start preparing financially for Christmas already!
According to a Gallup survey, in 2015 the average shopper spent $830 on Christmas presents! Unless you have been preparing for some time, that is a big financial hit to take at once.
Check out these awesome tips on how to enjoy Christmas without going broke:
Make a Christmas Budget (and stick to it)
The first and most important thing that you need to do to avoid going into debt over Christmas is to make a budget. Yes, before your loved ones give you their “Christmas list” and before you head to the outlet malls. Make a realistic and reasonable budget that you will be able to stick to.
There are a couple ways to make your Christmas budget if you haven’t started saving already. Look at your current monthly budget and figure out how much money you can save from each paycheck towards Christmas presents.
- For example, if you are able to save $60 each paycheck towards Christmas and you have 5 pay periods left until Christmas. That means you can spend $300 on Christmas presents.
If you are able to save $60 each paycheck and cut out an additional $40 of expenses each paycheck until Christmas you can save even more money. That might mean skipping Starbucks or mowing your own grass instead of paying someone. That additional sacrifice over 5 pay periods means you have $500 to spend on Christmas presents. You can even automate saving with these 4 apps.
In addition, you can pick up a side hustle for the holidays to make extra money. Many retailers are highering in anticipation for the busy holiday season. The bonus of working a retail job is that you also may score a sweet discount that you can use toward Christmas presents.
Shop Deals (but make sure it’s really a deal)
Find all the deals that you can! If you have an idea of what you want to get the people on your list, start browsing for prices now.
Beware of Black Friday. Many times the black Friday advertised deals are not even the best prices of the season. Stores will use a few doorbuster items to lure you in the store and purchase other things. A study done by the Wall Street Journal over 4 years determined that some items actually get more expensive as the holiday season approaches. Yes, you read that right, more expensive!
A quick way to check deals if you are in a brick and mortar store is to download the QR scan app on your phone. Once you find an item in a store, scan the barcode in the app. Then the app will let you know of other places that have the same item and the price. Therefore, you can either buy the item and the store suggested on the app or put your negotiation skills to the test.
Many stores will negotiate their prices in order to meet competitors so that you will buy the item directly from them.
Check Return Policy & Save Receipts
If you decide to buy a Christmas present early, make sure you check the return policy and save the receipt(s). Depending on how early you shop, many stores incorporate special return policies for the holidays giving you more time return gifts where you have changed your mind or no longer need.
Smaller boutiques and new business don’t always offer returns and if they do offer returns it may only be good for store credit. Be aware of the policy associated with the store that you are shopping at.
Last but more importantly ask for a gift receipt. Gift receipts are typically only good for in-store exchanges; however, they are awesome when you are buying someone clothes (especially for a child). In the event the item(s) don’t fit, the person who receives the gift can return it at a later time.
Just Say No!
Just say no to:
- Spending more than your budget.
- Opening a credit card to spend more than you saved.
- Charging Christmas gifts on credit cards and racking up interest.
- Withdrawing money from your emergency fund for Christmas.
At the end of the day, consider your long-term financial goals. Is it really worth racking up more high-interest debt for one day? Is it worth dipping into your savings account and jeopardize you from being able to handle a true financial emergency? Think about the true meaning of Christmas which isn’t even about gifts. I know it is awesome to see the joy on others faces when opening presents; however, can you imagine your joy if you were debt free? Or if you were able to use the $1500 spent on Christmas to invest in the market or even in yourself.
Have an open and honest conversation about your budget with your close family prior to Christmas. If they love you, they will understand your financial goals and sacrifices you need to make in order to reach those goals.
The best gifts that I have given for Christmas were the thoughtful gifts. For example, my grandmother battles with short memory loss. For last Christmas, I bought her a scrapbook and filled it with pictures of our family. I was able to catch the scrapbook and needed tools at a great deal. In addition, I was able to get pictures printed out at a discounted price.
My grandmother was overjoyed by the gift. It is something she can cherish for a lifetime. In addition, I plan on adding additional pages to the scrapbook each Christmas. To top it off, the cost of the gift was less than $40.
Also, talk about Christmas as an entire family. Others may be stressing about overspending as well. Don’t forget the true reason for the season this year.
Think about ways that you can incorporate more sentimental gifts this holiday season that won’t break the bank.
How do you enjoy Christmas without going broke?
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