It’s that time of year. Let the shopping begin … but WAIT. Before you head out the door or go online, follow these 3 steps to save money when holiday shopping.
1- Make a list of ALL your holiday expenses.
Once you have this list, estimate how much you will spend in each category. Make sure your total amount is the amount you can comfortably spend without going into debt. Here’s a list to start:
Gift wrapping supplies:
If you find it difficult to estimate how much you will spend on gifts, then make a list of people you intend to buy gifts for this year. Next to each name, estimate how much you will spend on that person. For people who have everything, consider a $25 donation in their honor to their favorite charity. Another low cost gift is offering a service such as pet sitting or cooking dinner. Create a certificate for this gift option.
2- Track spending.
If you have a smartphone, download an app (e.g., Mint) where you can track your spending for each category. For simplicity, only use categories listed in #1. If you don’t have a smartphone, use Excel or a sheet of paper. Reconcile your spending with your target budget for each category whenever you shop. Another idea is to purchase a prepaid credit card with the total amount you plan to spend this holiday season. Using this card will ensure you stay true to your budget.
3- Adjust as necessary.
Sometimes things cost more than we anticipate. If you spend more in one area, then decrease your budget in another area. For example, let’s say you went over $30 in shipping gifts. To compensate for this overage, decrease your decorations budget by $30 (who needs a 7ft tree anyway – go for a Charlie Brown tree).
While it’s easy to overspend during the holidays, you can limit your damage by following these 3 steps. With technology, it’s easy to keep your list with you and track spending. Happy shopping!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Her firm bridges the gap between financial planning and coaching. As a Transition Consultant, she offers sage advice in all aspects of life – financial, personal and professional. Niv does not manage money and does not sell financial products. Her services include spending plan development, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”