Holiday shopping is as inevitable as those bulls in Pamplona ready to come out running when the gates swing wide open. December is fast approaching and there is no way to stop it. As much as it is an exciting time where you get to see family and friends, there is a certain sense of alarm for some people especially because it involves spending for gifts.
When going out to shop, husbands holding their wife’s hand is seen as a romantic gesture but some read it as being economical so she cannot shop. This shows two things, there are a lot of feminists out there and the second – people would do just about anything to save money when shopping. Kidding aside, the holidays is really one of those occasions where your finances are most vulnerable.
You need to make sure that you are smart with your credit card use especially with online purchases. It is important to monitor your cash purchases when patronizing small stores. You need to monitor your checking account as well. These are something you should be doing year round but there is something about the holiday season that you should be on guard for.
One proof that the season for giving also does a number on your finances is that the National Retail Federation computed higher purchases for the last two months of the year. According to NRF.com, there is an expected 3.7% increase in sales excluding food, gas and automobile purchases. This means about $630.5 billion being poured in by consumers because of the holiday season.
Preparing for holiday expenses
That number is staggering and frankly quite scary making you want to clutch to your wallets a little more tighter in the coming months. Although the economy will be grateful to you as it is driven by your purchases, you need to more conscious with your holiday shopping. Here are some ways you can rein in your buying impulse during the holidays.
- Put together a budget. Having a budget helps you prevent and keep away from piling up debt in holiday buying. It is a good idea to list down all the important people in your life and see how much you can budget for each. It might also be a good idea to start listing down shops that offers sales and bargains for gifts that you would buy for each. It would be best if you can start with the budget list early on so you know how much you need to set aside then you wouldn’t be caught off-guard with your expenses.
- Remember to stay within budget. It is not enough to have a budget for the holiday season, you need to follow that budget to help you manage your expenses. Just like how you make a grocery list before heading out to buy what you need. That list will help you put in the cart the items that you are running short on. If you do not follow your list, then you just wasted time putting it together and you can end up having multiple grocery bags and not picking up what you need. The same with a holiday budget list because it can guide you in what you need to buy and even help you keep track of what you already have.
- Request for a credit limit increase. Credit.com shares that the average credit limit at the moment is already 11% down from last year. If you have a plan of using your credit card to buy gifts for people, you might want to check you credit limit and see how much you have and how much you need. If you feel that you would need a bigger limit then talk to your lender and ask if it is possible to get an increase in your limit in time for the holiday shopping.
- Pay down debt. If you cannot get an increase in your credit limit, one way to go about it is to lower down your existing debt if you have some on your card. Aggressively pay it down leading to the holidays so you can take advantage of your card. But as you do this, bear in mind that you need to have a strategy in repaying your card purchases. If possible, pay the whole statement when you receive it at the end of the month. Try not to start the new year with a lot of debt on your credit card.
- Be sensible with your gift giving. It is tempting to give a gift to everyone you know. It could be because you want to get something back, you want to be remembered or you just want to be the cool person in the office who gave everyone a gift. Regardless of your reason, you need to put some sense on your holiday shopping and one way to do it is to gift people you love and who are close to you. That person in accounting would not mind not getting a gift from you because there is a big chance she doesn’t have one for you either.
Can you lower down cost for gifts?
Holiday shopping is frightening for some but there are ways to lower down your expenses. Take a look at some of them and see if they are something you can consider.
- Look for pre-loved items. There are people who are having problems sticking to their finances what conducts garage or bargains sales to liquidate some of their belongings. You can find great items at great prizes in these places and you even get to help people who are running short on cash. But when you visit garage sales, try not haggling too low because you might end up with nothing. Be sensible with your asking prices and have a heart for the people selling the items.
- Personalize your gifts. When was the last time you baked cookies or even used your digital camera to take breathtaking photos? As you think your gift giving through, one way to save on holiday shopping is to personalize your gifts by using your talents to put together gifts for people. Brush up on your baking or cooking skills and see if you can bake or cook for people instead of buying them gifts. if you really want to give them something, try a DIY approach. Why not set aside a few days to do some shoots and have a calendar made from your photos? You can also get in touch again with your artistic side and do some paintings for your friends and family. These ideas will surely save you a lot in buying gifts over the holidays.
- Know what they really need. How many microwave units did you get on your wedding day? How many plates and bowls have you been getting every holiday season? One of the best ways in gift giving is trying to find out what they really need? There are some who would just ask outright what other people need but there are some
- Buy early in the year. You are already cutting it close for this year with holiday shopping but it is still better to buy early rather than a few weeks or days before the actual gift giving day. This is one of the things you need to keep in mind when going out to buy gifts – buy early or in bulk. This will surely help you stay away from spike in prices because demand is higher as you get closer to gift giving day.
Holiday shopping shouldn’t be a scary tradition if you know how to go about it without wasting away all the savings you have worked hard for. Be conscious with your spending and you can make other people happy without spending too much.