The temptation is there-getting all the holiday shopping done as soon as possible so you can focus on other things. Stores oblige, setting prices lower and lower, offering special deals and discounts as the holiday season progresses. With or without Christmas lists from your family and friends, it becomes all too easy to start marking names off the list as you pick out present after present. Does it ever dawn on you to take a look at what you are spending each time you swipe? Or after a third, half, or all of your holiday shopping is complete?
It can be way too easy to dig yourself into holiday debt as you pick out all the presents and holiday accessories you need this time of year. Credit cards swipe so quickly, quietly, and conveniently, and the massive bills add up in the background. What is one to do in order to avoid going off the deep end into (even a little bit of) credit card debt over the holidays?
Remember, the more you swipe, the more your bank account cries a little bit inside. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips to try in order to keep your account afloat during the holiday shopping frenzy:
- First and foremost, keep a tally of what you spend. Save your receipts in an envelope and tally everything up at the end of each shopping trip. Keep adding the amount and keep placing the receipts in the same envelope. This makes it especially easy if you have to deal with returns, as well.
- Give yourself a budget per person, and stick to it. Don’t drive yourself crazy every time you see something so-and-so would like. No matter if you set your budget at $20 per person or $50 per person, be sure the gifts you purchase fit into that budget.
- Make a shopping list of gifts before you go. It truly helps to know what you are buying before you find yourself overwhelmed in the middle of the mall.
- Consider shopping online so you can compare prices. Shopping online also allows you to take advantage of additional discounts like online coupon codes and free shipping vouchers.
- Don’t delay-start your shopping early if you can. Avoid waiting until the last minute, when you may feel more pressure to just get it over with. Avoid this kind of impulse shopping. You know the kind-it’s almost Christmas Eve and you still have seven presents to buy. When all else fails, consider getting a nice card and a gift card rather than going nuts buying everything in sight. Procrastinating on your holiday shopping is a lot like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. It makes you want to buy everything in sight just to make the problem go away. Don’t. Do. It.
- Use other forms of tender as needed. If you have gift cards to spend or some cash saved away, you can help reduce the amount of money you are racking up on your credit cards.
- And advice for next year – Save a little bit each month for your holiday purchases. Even setting aside $25 or $50 per month can make a big difference in the holiday debt you might otherwise accumulate. You can put this money into a special savings account or just save it in a safe place at home. Even if you still want to use your credit cards for your shopping, you will have this money stashed away to pay back your bills when the statements come in the mail.
Oftentimes sticking to a budget is easier said than done. If you go into your holiday shopping organized and with the best intentions, you are likely to spend less than if you go into it feeling stressed and hurried. Please share your own holiday shopping tips in our comments!