Last week we had the greatest holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. For many, the day after Thanksgiving begins a frenzy that won't end until December 25, as shopping lists are filled to buy gifts for loved ones and friends.
However, when people are in debt (or saving for another financial goal) how does that family not get side-tracked during the buying frenzy of Christmas? Here are some suggestions.
1. Have a limit and stick with it. The best way to do this, in my mind, is to discuss ahead-of-time with your family how much you can spend on each member of the family. We have done this in my family and it is already helping us stick to our Christmas budget.
2. Look for sales, but don't get duped by every "sale." Just because Store A has a shirt for 25% off does not mean that the shirt is quality. Make sure that the price is good for the item you are purchasing. Some retailers truly believe in volume instead of quality this time of year. I would rather pay a couple of dollars more for a quality item. Also, make sure the "sale" is really a SALE. Sometimes prices are marked up, then marked a certain percentage "off," and you are right back at the original price!
3. Shop online before shopping in person. You can find great deals online, but you can also find out what things are really selling for. Many times, when you shop online, you end up paying more for the item because you have to pay for shipping. Factor that in! If the item is going to be more with shipping, go to the store, but make sure you know what you could have paid online. Sometimes, for bigger-ticket items, stores will bargain a bit.
4. If you find a deal, don't spend more just to reach your limit. For example, if you have $50 set aside for your sibling and you find "THE BLOUSE" that she has been wanting for $30, don't feel obligated to spend the other $20 on another gift. Take that money and pay down a debt, or use it for gasoline on your Christmas gift-giving. The people you are buying for already know you love them, and they will never know that you got a good deal.
5. Remember your goals. I can't overstate this. If getting out of debt is a high priority--truly a high priority--you will not overspend on Christmas. This is a time of year that will really test your dedication to your financial goals.
Enjoy Christmas shopping. Be kind to those in the stores. Don't ruin their experience. But make sure you don't lose focus of your goals when it comes to your finances.