Gifting your near & dear ones, your friends, colleagues is always fun and yet, the age-old habit of gifting can pinch your wallet big time.
Holiday budgets keep increasing each year – well certainly since 2017 when those tax cuts were passed. Yet Christmas is not the time for frugal living. Here are nine ways to make some wise buying decisions and avoid going broke this holiday season.
Beware of emotional buying
Christmas gifting is all about emotional bonding. Making new friends, connecting with forgotten folks, and loving each other. Beware of emotional & impulsive purchases and don’t go to a mall if you think you buy things you don’t need.
Buying presents for everyone? Well, think twice
Money management experts warn that seasonal gift buying spree drags you into a debt trap if you have a long list of loved ones.
- Buy gifts for those whom you have carefully considered and selected.
- Personal finance experts suggest other ways to care for the people you care about. Give them personalized messages and handmade gifts, however trivial that might sound and look. Christmas is all about love & sharing, and not about expensive gifts. Jesus Christ, which is who Christmas is based on and America for that matter, never bought expensive gifts for his apostles.
Plan or pay more
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Buying gifts without a budget plan is akin to heading to Alaska during the holiday season without winter gear. Just not that bright!
- Do some homework with your finances. Compare your budgets and expenses in the last couple of seasons.
- Try to stick to realistic numbers with some margin for unexpected gift purchases.
Go online shopping for better deals
Nothing can rob the charm of rushing to the shops to buy gifts of your choice. Yet, with people jumping over hoops to get to discount shops, stores, and malls during this part of the season, everything is time-consuming.
The long drives, traffic, and long lines at the cashier could force you to actually spend less time selecting your gifts. This is why you should change your buying habits!
- Online shopping today is even more shopper-friendly. No lines and no delays.
- Online retailers offer better deals. Be prudent enough to subscribe to retail websites early and get their offer notifications through emails.
- Getting cash-back on items purchased is another reason to shop online.
- Add free shipping, and your shopping experience cannot get any better.
- And you don’t have to worry about getting into a car wreck! No fender benders in the parking lot either!
Don’t buy before comparing prices
Discounted prices may not be the best price of a product especially during the holiday sales. Spend some time searching online and you are bound to save 10-20 percent more on gifts.
- A quick search on websites for Walmart and Target, or online websites such as Amazon or Ebates.com, can help you shop better.
- You can also download certain mobile device apps that instantly showcase multiple discounts across online and/or brick & mortar retailers if you have that type of discipline and that type of stuff does not bother you. Knowing what you want and by comparing the items online that you are considering buying should be stellar enough for you to not over spend.
Never buy in excess
Holiday retailers try to manipulate the psyche of buyers by offering product bundles at reduced prices. While this upselling strategy might work occasionally, it may not work in your favor especially when you are looking for holiday savings, caution holiday savings experts.
If you want buy a Star Trek or a fantastic Transformers DVD that is fine but be careful. If you cannot afford something then you have to realize that.
Flea markets for unique holiday gifts
Look out for a flea market around you (why ever go to a place with the word flea in the title?). It could be hosting a treasure trove that you may never come across though you may get ripped off. There are some unscrupulous merchants at places such as this but there are a few bright spots such as:
- A unique tiffany lamp could be bought, for instance.
- You could buy an antique watch for a few hundreds of dollars that could ordinarily fetch thousands of dollars on the auction table.
Avoid credit cards
Last minute holiday purchases or even well-planned credit card purchases can leave you in a tough spot when you open your credit card statement the following month.
- According to Holiday Budgeting Expert Gary Herman, if your holiday purchases are on credit, make sure you have a way to pay the debt back. Perhaps you should not be buying gifts for anyone if you are not doing that well which is not that common in this amazing American market. But if you have already spent too much on a home or a car you may have to admit to yourself that you will have to let your friends and family know that you cannot afford to buy them a Christmas gift this year. They should respect you for your transparency.
- While shopping, carry a small note that lists your debts to help you squash any impulsive credit card buying.
And don’t overindulge
Buying gifts for others means you are likely to be tempted to buy gifts for yourself. But that could mean exceeding your budget. Seasonal discounts could entice you into buying expensive gifts or wellness packages that which you never planned in the first place.
You need to overcome these urges. You are not the state of California, you cannot waste billions on boondoggle ideas and hope to be bailed out!