You may not be ready to think about it yet, but Christmas as the holiday season is rapidly approaching us. And, we all know that the holidays are an expensive time of the year. One reason is that we are a very generous society and love holiday gift giving.
One recent survey found that Americans spend over $500 per year on gifts for our friends and family. We love to give and giving can quickly add up and become a budget buster.
But, there are a few ways that you can make this a perfect year and still give gifts that make you just as happy as those who receive them without living a case of buyer’s remorse or a pile of credit card debt.
Five Ways To Make Holiday Gift Giving Perfect This Year
Start Budgeting Now For Christmas Gifts
You should start budgeting for your Christmas gift purchases now if you have not done so already. Do you spend the average of $500 on gifts every year? How much did you spend last year? Do you spend wisely when it comes to your holiday shopping?
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Divide that amount by the number of paycheck you have left until the holidays, and that is how much you should shoot for setting aside. Budgeting will help you stay away from using your credit cards and falling into the debt trap.
Now is the time to start thinking about holiday gift giving and the gifts that you will give to your friends and loved ones. Do not wait until the holiday’s are right upon us.
Buy Holiday Gifts A Little Bit At A Time
Last month, my four year-old boy showed me a toy that he wanted in the toy store, the Imaginex Aircraft Carrier. The toy is wickedly expensive for a random act of toy store kindness from a father, but it would make a great Christmas present.
So, last week, I went back to that same toy store and bought the gift and hid it for Christmas. Buying things a little at a time can help you take small bites out of the total amount of money you want to spend in gifts this year and make it more manageable.
Start Looking For Sales Now
If you have a list of what your spouse, children, family, and best friends love to receive, you should always be on the look for sales of those items. One thing that a reader recently brought to my attention was that you can set up Google Alerts based on certain keywords that will help alert you immediately to when things like a sale of your favorite items go on sale letting you know the perfect price for that holiday gift giving item.
Look For Discounts Through Social Media
I had never thought about looking for deals on things on Twitter until one of my followers of @MoneyQandA mentioned scoring discount codes on Twitter. Use the search function, put in the name of the store or website you are thinking about using along with something like “coupon code” in the search box to find great discounts on your overall purchases at those sites.
Consider also signing up for the newsletter of your favorite store or chain to receive a discount. For example, readers of the Guitar Center’s newsletter constantly receive some awesome coupons to use either on their website or in any one of their brick and mortar stores as well around the country.
Listen To Your Loved Ones Along The Way
One of my favorite things to do is write down things on a Christmas list that my wife and children say they wish we could buy all throughout the year. It never fails that my children always see some toy that they think is awesome and wish we had enough money in the budget to purchase right then. Another great one is to get an off-the-wall gift from stores like as seen on tv – they’re always unexpected and there have been some real winners over the years.
My wife is the same way and always tells me things that she loves (new furniture, jewelry, etc.). So, I am always making secret notes all year long, and when these items find their way under the Christmas tree at the end of the year, it is an incredible surprise that they often had forgotten about.
Christmas and the holidays can be a very trying time for a family especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck just trying to make ends meet. With a little planning, budgeting, and starting early, you can have a Christmas to remember without the extra weight of credit card bills and debt that can follow you for months to come after the holidays are over.