OH Christmas! It is the most wonderful time of the year it is here again, the time for giving and sharing of gifts with family and friends. As much as we want to celebrate and be jolly during this festive season, we also have to be careful about spending so that we don’t spoil the festive mood. From past years experiences the challenge with Christmas shoping has always been overspending. Retailers are really good at running promotions and coming up with the latest gift ideas to entice shoppers to spend more money than buyers really want to.
Once at the shopping mall, you are faced with opportunities to buy, buy without realizing it, multiple small purchases accumulate into big amounts which gives you a big shock when the credit card bill comes later. This year, I’m going to be prepared for my Christmas shopping by having a shopping list and budget before I head down to the mall. Here are some tips to prevent overspending and bursting your pockets this Christmas. Have a list. List the people who you are going to buy a Christmas gift for. This is a good place to start as the exercise will help you see the ‘magnitude’ of shopping you need to do. Here are some of the people who you will probably include in this list. For instance, family, close friends, colleagues and gift exchanges for Christmas parties.
Think of a gift – For each person in the list, think of a suitable gift that you will like to buy for him/her. If you are not very sure at this point, have a few potential items listed so that you at least have something in mind when you are in the mall. Start a budget:- For each gift, estimate how much you would spend on that gift. Total the prices for all the gifts you have listed and that will be your budget. If you have a few possible items listed for one person, use the price of the most expensive items to calculate the budget. You want to make sure you are prepared for the worst case scenario. Take a look at the total. Is this budget affordable? If not, you may have to review step 2 and 3 unit you have a final budget is realistic is to do some online research before you actually head down to the mall. Not only is this a good way to gather gift ideas and market rates, it also saves you time and energy you would waste going to the crowded mall simply for research purpose. Here are some great sites to start you off. – the grandfather of online shopping for books, electronics, CD/DVD for music and movies. Now, it even includes apparel, jewelry, tools and sports zears. Do your shopping – Here’s where the real action starts. Get down to the shopping mall or go to online stores to do your shopping. Also, note that retailers like to run promotions during the Christmas season to encourage consumer spending. At the malls, be prepared to be tempted by irresistible offers and promotions. Having the shopping list and budget in hand will certainly help you stay focused. You are less likely to get distracted into opportunistic shopping which will result in you bursting your pockets. Review actual spending against budget for each actual purchase that you make update your budget with the actual money spent. If you have burst your budget on some items then you will have to lower the spending on other items to make up for differences. Likewise, if you make some savings on certain items, then you will have more slack to play with on other items. Keep doing this for the entire shopping list and you will be able to constantly track your actual spending against budget. This is vitally important to help you keep within your shopping budget. It does take some challenges effort to plan your Christmas shopping. However, the effort will allow you to shop with focus and saves you time and money later on. With the above tips, I hope you will enjoy a splendid (excellence) and worry free holiday. There will not be any nasty surprises when the January bill comes in as you know very well how much you have spent.
When buying for your children, remember that they will age a year before next Christmas children’s interests and abilities change rapidly, especially when they are young. Think ahead to the age the children on your list will be next year and consider what skills or interests they will most likely have at that age. (Maybe you will also have to think back to what you enjoyed at that age) growing up doesn’t mean that a child’s personality changes completely from year to year, however, if a child has a basic interest in one field, such as art or science or sports, look for something in that field that is a bit more advanced than what he likes this year. Write down where you store any gifts you buy. Next December’s calendar page is a great place to record the storage place. If you have to keep the hiding spot secret from snooping children, write it in a code only you will understand. Few things are more frustrating than knowing you have gifts stashed somewhere but not remembering where, and you will wind you wasting money instead of saving if you have to go out and buy something else.
You may discover that Christmas shopping is a real joy when you get it out of the way during after Christmas sales. In the future, you may even find yourself trying to convince your family to hold off celebrating for a few days so that you can buy the gifts on December 26 and give them on December 27. That way, you can save money on gifts and not even have a find a place to store them. Be sure that you have a specific purpose for everything you buy. When shopping for gifts, have particular people in mind to receive them, even if its “the next friend to get married” or “my day daughters teacher next year”. An item bought simply because its something nice at a good price that you could give as a gift often wind up languishing forgotten in a drawer until it’s obsolete or hopelessly out of fashion. A man once said “you buy what you need and not what is good or beautiful”. So, next time you are about to take your leave for shopping think vividly of what is vital to you most. Panic happen when we leave the planning and purchasing of Christmas presents until the last minute. Buying under pressure can lead to bad and sometimes costly decisions. You can also end up overspending when you buy presents bit by bit with out thinking, but with a little forward planning and budgeting you can enjoy the festivities without feeling the pinch.
Finally, always know that December can be an expensive month. So, it’s no wonder that more than half of the people in the world especially Nigerian say worrying about finances keep them awake at night. All this chilling details are for you to secure your money in the presence of waste.