Stay on Budget With Holiday Spending

Christmas is just around the corner, and it is one of those shopping seasons that seem to put everyone’s budget in a tailspin. It doesn’t have to be that way. With just some patience and a few simple tips, your budget can come out unscathed.

1. Set a budget for your shopping AND STICK WITH IT. Make a list of who you need to buy for (children, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc) and a list of who you would like to do something for (neighbors, coworkers, group members). Now break down the amount you can spend into something for each of the people on your list.

2. Do control your urges when it comes to buying for the kids. We started when our children were all 1. We spent $25 on them, and each year we add $25. Our oldest is 10 now. I’m thinking we are coming close to the cap ;).

3. Set a limit. Each child gets no more than three wrapped gifts. They get some little things (under $5) in their stockings. But I don’t want them overwhelmed with stuff – besides, where on earth can they put it all?

4. Don’t buy for the world. If you feel you must give some one you barely know some sort of trinket, why don’t you write them a nice note telling them why you appreciate them.

5. Buy things that will be used are appreciated – not just things that can take up space under the tree. My older brother is notorious hard to buy for because the only thing he does is work and hunt. Hunting gear is expensive – and you can only give so many ties. I’ve started looking for interesting food items (like a smoked salmon) that he and his family can enjoy.

6. The amount a gift cost does not determine that amount of your love for that person. It is far better to listen to them through out the year and give them something they will enjoy and use than to waist money on a $100 paperweight that just takes up room.

7. Homemade goodies make great gifts. Spend the day (or two or three) in the kitchen with the kids making cookies, candies, and other treats. Get $1 platters at the dollar store and fill them with the treats. Then take the whole family to go and deliver the treats. You could even sing carols if you wanted.

8. Start shopping now. Waiting until the last minute can cost you a fortune because you don’t have time to find the best price (or often the best present). If you are going to shop online, leave plenty of time to get the presents shipped at the regular cost instead of having to spend extra for rush delivery.

9. Shopping online does not have to be a bad thing. You can find great gifts at incredible prices. Places like eBay and can offer deals that will make your head spin. Just don’t forget to include shipping and handling when you are determining the price.

10. Think outside the box. For those people in my life that hate clutter (and things that make it) and enjoy the outdoors, I look for products that can be used when the weather turns nice again. Last year I found a couple of high end hammocks online for my husband. Every year he had wanted one, and every year they just cost too much for him to justify the purchase. I found them at Overstock for just a few dollars.

By planning ahead, you can save your budget from a crushing blow brought on by the holiday craziness. This holiday season try stay focused on what is really important – spending time with loved ones instead of spending money on stuff.

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