Is your holiday spending growing like Santa’s waistline? Every year, I struggle to keep within a budget during the Christmas spending blitz. Here’s how this Christmas elf keeps financially solvent through the spending season.
Each year, I set a per-person amount for children, grandparents and siblings. I’ve quit trying to match the number of gifts with the amount spent on each child. One child may get three large presents and another six smaller ones, but I spend the same amount per person.
Nix holiday credit spending
Credit card shopping was my biggest holiday shopping fail. Now I shop from my checking account: When it’s gone, I quit spending.
Buy in multiples
If I find a bargain on a gift for grandparents, I will buy the same item for each. Online dealers sometimes lower shipping and handling charges for multiple items. This works well for same-gender kids, too.
Have items shipped to recipient
Shipping and handling costs are huge money eaters. I avoid paying double by having items shipped directly to the recipient. I always indicate on the order form that it is a gift so that the invoice is not included.
Count all costs
In planning my holiday budget, I found that I was overlooking many expenses: lavish holiday dinners for extended family, higher household expenses for live-in guests, charitable donations and annual holiday school photos for extended family. I started adding all purchases to per-person budget amount. Then I made per-person spending tweaks across the board.
Count gifts given early
I sometimes buy holiday gifts for my children, but give them early. I add these costs to their per-person budgeted amount. I tell them that this will be an early holiday gift and that they should expect one less gift under the tree.
Cut down the shopping season
When the children were younger, I would begin my holiday shopping in August. It was a good way to get a jump on the sales, but it also prolonged the buying season. I ended up spending too much. I’m learning to stop shopping when I’ve reached my limit. If I find good deals on presents when I’m done with holiday buying, I purchase the item, but put it away for birthdays.
Shop in shorter jaunts
The more time I spend in a store, the more money I spend. I’ve learned to assemble my coupons, make a list, get what I came for and leave. I do my “browsing” online or with catalogs, so that I’m not tempted to keep spending.