Before the last stitch was even in my son’s Halloween costume this year, I spied TV commercials encouraging me to start my Christmas shopping. It appears Black Friday is no longer the official start of the holiday shopping season, like it or not, so how can my budget survive nearly two months of spending pressure? Thankfully, I believe with a little pre-planning, I can shop for everyone on my list, stay on budget, and even have a little room to treat myself, and you can too! Nothing to fear!
Make Your List and Check It A Lot
I know how much money I have to spend on gifts this year. And I know exactly who I need to shop for. Before I even take one step into a store, I plot out how much of that budget goes to each person. Then I make a few notes about possible gifts that don’t exceed each individual budget. As purchases are made, I keep track of how much I have left for each recipient. Putting it down on paper keeps me in control and helps ward off those impulse purchases!
Beware Black Friday Madness
It’s reported that this year, retailers won’t be able to sustain the deep, deep discounts consumers ate up last year. Instead of “50% Off the Entire Store,” deals like Free Shipping and “$10 off your purchase of $50 or more” are expected to prevail in 2011. The hit to your wallet could be harder this year if you choose to venture out to a shopping plaza/mall in the dark of night. I have a solution that could help you avoid the impulse purchases and pressures of the high-energy shopping day. Read On!
Make Your Purchases Online
If you can score a free shipping deal, why not save your own gas costs and choose a shopping strategy that puts you more in control? By shopping online, you can really think about your spending before hitting the “Submit Order” button. Sign up for emails at retailers you fancy before the shopping season gets in full swing to maximize your discounts. You can even create an account at each site and fill your shopping cart with the items that interest you and check back often to monitor the price fluctuations. On Thanksgiving evening, I’m usually filling up my cart with high demand items so I can place my order as soon as the crazy deals take effect. And then I can go back to bed and soundly sleep off that turkey dinner!
Work the System
Coupon craziness has become the norm these days, and for good reason. You can really stretch your budget further or put more money back in your pocket by taking advantage of sales and coupons that seem to be available every other day – not just on Black Friday. A few weeks ago I was shopping for my nephew and found a toy he wanted already marked down 30%. The store had an extra 30% off deal on top of that price, so I was able to get him a $50 remote control truck for $25. Add that to another item I bought, and I also received money to spend at the store at a later date. I bought a sweater for myself at nearly $60 off the retail price when I combined those earned “reward dollars” with another percent-off coupon. I scored a great gift at a great price, an item for myself, and walked away with my budget intact.
I believe it’s possible to survive the holidays without the sinking feeling of overspender’s remorse, but it requires planning, patience, and organization. All completely worth the effort, in my book. Do you think you can resist the temptation to spend, spend, spend? How have you been successful with your budget this year?