Monday, December 23, 2013

Tis The Season

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

Tis the season to spend money! Christmas is only 20 days away. According to the National Retail Federation shoppers spent an average of $407 over the Thanksgiving weekend. We have not done much shopping as of yet. Like we have done in the past my wife and I will be taking a day off from work in the next week or two to tackle most of our shopping. We have done this in years past and have found store less crowded mid-week. We take advantage of that as well as having our three children in school. I am fortunate to receive an end of year bonus that funds our Christmas shopping. I know this is not the smartest plan, that the bonus is not a guarantee, but it has worked for us as we have focuses our monthly income and budget on debt repayment. This will change for us in the future as we become debt free before next Christmas. Our budget is high for our children for Christmas due to the fact that there have been many “No” handed out during the year while in debt repayment mode and the fact that the bonus is not factored into our over income. We still do try and attack our shopping with a plan and here are some of the tips that have served us well over the years.

tis the season

Set a budget or spending limits

This is really your first step understanding what your overall budget is going to be for your Holiday Shopping. Thanksgiving might be the good family opportunity to discuss spending limits with immediate family members. We often would set a $25 limit for the children in the family (nieces & nephews) and often would not exchange gifts with sibling.

Have a plan

Once you know what your overall budget is or spending limit per person you can begin a list. We always make a list, yes we do check it twice. We include everyone we plan on purchasing gifts for and note gift ideas as well. I typically keep it in a excel spread sheet as I can easily edit, color code etc.


Now that you have your budget and list you can use the internet to do some homework, compare prices, products, find stores that have the items you want, and sign up for rewards. You may even purchase some of these items online. Many offer free shipping this time of the year. If you have a $25 limit for a person by find the gift for that person on sale for $20 you now have $5 to buy them something else or move over to someone else.

Bottom Line

Following these simple steps have kept us from aimlessly walking around the mall purchasing random items. Only to come home to fine we had totally spend more money then we had intended too. If true tight on money you might want to consider making gifts, there are so many inexpensive things you can do with digital photos these days. I made a photo book for my mom for her birthday for under $20. She loved it and know has a nice way to show off her grandkids to her friends when they come over. One other tool I found recent is a Dave Ramsey’s My Christmas Budget. It’s a great online tool that will help you keep track of your holiday spending this year. How do you manage your holiday budget?

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