Develop a Gift-Giving Philosophy
Normally, our first suggestion in every instance of life is to budget. And we’ll get there. But before you budget, you really need to create your Christmas gift-giving philosophy.
What does giving mean to you? Is it about finding the perfect present for each special person in your life? Do you scour all the websites, all the stores, and all the sales all year long? Is it about the hunt or the look on their faces when they open the well-thought-out present?
Think about your why before you think about how you’re going to pay for all those presents.
“We don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing we need. Make our wish come true. All we want for Christmas is you — to budget.” Okay, that’s not how the song goes, but hopefully, it gets the point across. The way you become the hero of the holidays is by budgeting for the holidays.
That’s right — if you want to stay on Santa’s nice list, set a limit for how much you’re going to spend and stick to it.
Track Your Spending
Nothing puts the “Bah! Humbug!” into Christmas like overspending. Keep yourself safe from the Ghost of Christmas-Spending Past. In other words, don’t regret all that Christmas shopping when January rolls around — track your expenses as you go.
And you know what makes that easier, right? EveryDollar Plus! It connects to your bank account and streams transactions straight to your app. You just have to drag and drop them into your budget categories. It’s easy and it gives you more time to do the things that really matter to you.
Choose Time Over Money
There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s the thought that counts,” and for some people, the thought of spending time together is better than the joy of a physical gift. You can save money this year by being intentional about being together — valuing experiences over accessories, trips over toys, and conversations over
Be a Sentimental Spender
So, you have a bit of holiday-induced obligation to deal with. You can’t pass around gifts at family Christmas and be like, “Uh, sorry, Cousin Scott . . . You’re the only one I couldn’t find anything for.” But you also shouldn’t grab Cousin Scott a random ugly bunny ornament unless that’s something he specifically collects.
Be sentimental as you spend. Get presents that line up with the interests or needs of those on your list. This is one of the top ways to make sure you’ll see sincere smiles by the light of the Christmas tree.
Don’t wait for Black Friday to start Christmas shopping — look for sales all year long. Nab that stuffed Sasquatch on clearance in July that you know your bigfoot-enthusiast nephew will cherish. When you’re mindful of your list throughout the year, you’ll spread out both the spending and the stress (and maybe even get rid of the stress altogether).
If you missed the chance to jump on the early shopping train this year, remember it in January when you’re budgeting for the next Christmas season!
Buy Essentials Only
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Give Fewer Gifts
As you’re in the spirit of trimming the tree, trim down that Christmas list while you’re at it. Don’t just drop everyone off the list — at least not the ones who’ll notice and take offense (like Cousin Scott). But not everyone needs a gift. This year, send your tidings of comfort and joy to some people on your list through a thoughtful card only.
And if you want to cut back, even more, have a kind chat with your family members. Are you all giving just to give? Does everyone want to cut back? A clear conversation about skipping presents this year for a shared meal and stocking stuffers instead could be just the thing both your family and your finances need.
Resist Retail Marketing
Friends. The National Retail Association expects holiday spending to hit between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion this year.2 Yes. Billion. And you know what? There’s no way everybody’s going the cash-only route this year. That’s a lot of spending. And a lot of debt.
Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in all the sales and spending shenanigans. You may think these retailers are posting sales from the goodness of their hearts to help you — but their real goal is to get in on a part of that $730 billion holiday “magic.” Stick with your budget — and shop wisely.
Live by the List!
There’s a reason Santa checked his list twice, and it’s not because he’s absent-minded. When we go off the list, we overspend. Now, if you realize you forgot a friend — of course, you add them in! But once you’ve got your philosophy and budget set, don’t get swept up in the Christmas spirit and start buying every snowflake-themed item you find for every person you’ve ever met.