We might still be approximately three months away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts! My husband and I actually started this conversation this past weekend as we try to get on top of things before the mad rush from black Friday onwards. Here are some things that you can do to save time and money this holiday period:
(1) Set a budget – Many people suggest spending 1.5% of your gross annual income on Christmas gifts, travel, and food. In 2014, the average gross family income was $65,751 according to Motley Fool, 1.5% of which is $986.27. This seems like a lot of money to spend on the holiday, but when you think about the costs outside of gifts, such as food, entertainment, and travel, it makes sense.
(2) Start early enough so that you have a list of gifts for each person. You might be able to track prices on apps like Cartwheel so that you can purchase these items when they are at their lowest price, or at the very least do your research before Black Friday so you can check for big sales on the items you are looking for.
(3) Remember that it’s the thought that counts. Some of the best gifts that I have ever received have been those that were homemade or were tied to an experience that I shared with my loved ones.
(4) Enjoy your time with your family! Don’t spend so much time focused on gifts and shopping that you lose sight of what is really important, which is time with those whom you love.
(5) Are there things that you could make for your family that would save you money and would also mean more to them? Last year I made a range of cosmetic products for my family including an aftershave balm, foot cream, moisturizing cream, and lip balm made from natural ingredients and essential oils. These were a big hit, and fun to make as well!
(7) Take advantage of layaway so that you pay ahead of time, rather than opening up crippling lines of credit that will continue to grow with interest charges.
(8) Make intelligent decisions about using Christmas bonuses. Don’t plan on spending a huge Christmas bonus which fails to materialize.
(9) Don’t buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts. This tends to happen when you wait until the last minute and are walking aimlessly around the store looking for something, anything that you could get for the last person on your list. You end up buying them something that they don’t want or need, and holds no meaning. This is disappointing for both of you!
(10) Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones – it might seem like you can handle the high spending habits of your friends, but no one gets an award for spending the most money during the holiday season. Is it really worth it to blow through your budget only to spend the next several months trying to get your head above water and out of debt? Remember what the holiday is truly about, and don’t get carried away by the hype.
Hopefully these tips are helpful, and as I stated above, it’s never too early to get started! The sooner you are finished with your shopping, the sooner you get to spend quality time with family during the holiday season.