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How to Stay Within Your Christmas Budget

by KNS Financial on December 15, 2010

 

Yes, I know that it’s already the middle of December! However, my experience tells me that most of you have not done your Christmas shopping as of yet. That means that you still have time to ensure that you do not damage your finances during the holiday season.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your Christmas spending in line:

Make a List

Think of all the people that you would like to buy gifts for. This includes all family, friends, and coworkers. Be sure to add in those people with whom you interact with often (pastor/church leaders, kids’ teachers, business associates, etc).

Some of you would even like to include various service providers (mailman, paperboy, hairdresser, barber, etc), go ahead! In the next two steps we’ll decide if you can really keep them there.

Make a Budget

I know that it seems simple, but you must do this. I’m talking about a real budget, not just a random dollar amount that you hope to come under. You need to set a spending limit before you even make your Christmas list!

Take a good look at your finances and determine how much cash you have available to allocate toward Christmas shopping! Do not allow yourself to borrow money just to buy gifts (or for any other reason!).

Make it a point this Christmas to be disciplined and avoid a spending hangover in January!

Set Priorities

Your budget should be based on your financial situation, not on emotion! It would be wonderful if you can get a gift for every person in your life, but that is not realistic.

Begin to look through your list, with budget in hand, and make some cuts. You probably won’t be able to get a gift for everyone on your list, so you need to think through the purpose for each gift, and the type of relationship you have with each person on the list.

Keep in mind that you have a couple of options besides simply purchasing a gift (see below).

Get Creative

For some people on your list, consider giving a homemade gift.

For those who love to bake, you can cross of much of your Christmas list for the cost of basic ingredients! This is even something that you can have your children help you with! They will love the feeling of helping you, coupled with making a gift for someone they know. Just make sure that you are good a baking – don’t just take your word for it 😉 !

Being creative when it comes to gift baskets and other artistic projects, can help you stay within your budget as well. This is also true with knitting and other talents that help you create homemade gifts.

To be honest, homemade gifts show a great deal of thought, and usually come across much better than a Gift Certificate or something else that you picked up really quickly.

Since this does involve some costs and a lot of time, a homemade gift isn’t an option for everyone. Despite the push for you to spend money, a Christmas card (with a nice, thoughtful, personal message) is still a nice touch! It can show the recipient that you were thinking of them, and can really go a long way for a small price. This is especially true when you can include a family photo along with the message (and try to have it signed by everyone).

Compare Prices

Once you determine your list to purchase gifts for, start comparing prices. Search online for various options, considering shipping costs and time. Most of the large retailers have robust online stores that allow you to place an order and have it delivered right to the store! Some of them will even gift wrap the item for you and ship it directly to the recipient, with a card that includes a personalized message from you!

You can can look at freeshipping.org to see what online retailers offer free shipping. Keep in mind that December 17, 2010 is “free shipping day“, and over 1200 retailers have signed up to offer free shipping, and will guarantee delivery before Christmas.

Bundle Gifts

No, I don’t mean that you just blindly make relatives share a gift!  But, if you are shopping for a family, try to find a gift that will bless the entire household. The same can be done with children – buying a board game, video game, or child-friendly movie can be a gift for them all.

Since my wife and I have discovered the fun of board games, we love when someone decides to buy us one as a gift. Of course, if they want to buy mea new bluetooth headset and give her the game, I wouldn’t be mad!

But seriously, instead of worrying about spending money on two people, our friends and family can just consider what to buy us as a couple.

Reader Questions:

  1. Do you have a budget for Christmas shopping?
  2. What are some of the things that you do to ensure that you stay within your budget?
  3. Have you completed your shopping already?

photo by Jim Robinson Films

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