Years ago I would do all my holiday shopping in one day including buying the family Christmas Tree. I had a method to my madness. I was young and just scraping by. But I had saved money over the year and by early December had $500 to spend on holiday gifts. It wasn't a lot and with more than a dozen people to buy for, no one on my list was going to get an expensive, that was certain. And just to be sure I was not tempted to buy that "one more thing" for Cousin Brendon, I left my credit cards, ATM card and check book at home. I used cash for all my purchases. Once the money was gone, my gift buying was done.
Of course it was easier then, than it is today. This was before online shopping had taken over. Today impulse buying online is a great temptation. It's so easy to hit the "buy" button on a website. You can get yourself into deep trouble fast if you are not careful.
But holiday spending does not have to become a big problem or put a lock on your wallet. There are many ways to save money during the holidays. Here are some of the best.
1. Start early with your holiday shopping. If you do that, you won't feel the need to buy the first thing you find. You might find yourself getting some real bargains if you start ahead of everyone else.
2. Double check your list. Is there anyone you really don't need to shop for? If you don't connect with the person all year, you might reconsider having them on your list.
3. Decide on a budget and stick to it. Before you leave the house determine how much you are prepared to spend. Keep that dollar amount firm in your mind. Promise yourself you won't overspend.
4. Never shop with credit cards. Use cash or your ATM. (Cash is the better choice.) By spending only money that you actually have in your pocket or in your bank account, you will have to stick to a budget.
5. Make a decision to make some gifts yourself. Homemade gifts are much more personal and often more appreciated than store bought gifts. And you can save money too.
6. When you are shopping for everyone else, don't fall for the "reward" idea and buy a gift or two for yourself. Leave that for another day.
7. When it comes to gift wrapping paper and ribbons, try the discount stores. They often have perfectly good decorations. The fancy stuff is not necessary.
8. Forget holiday cards. It takes time to buy cards, address and write a note in each, plus the cost of postage. If you want to send a holiday greeting, consider using an online service that has a small membership fee, or a free membership.
9. Do your research. Scan the ads and find the bargains. Make a decision of what you are going to buy each person on your list before you leave home. And stick to it.
10. Save money when you can. Watch for sales and if you can, look for a lower cost version of a high ticket item. Often both versions are made by the same manufacturer. The difference might be a few simple "bells and whistles" that are extras you don't need.
Follow these tips. Keep the plastic out of your wallet. You will have a debt-free holiday and a much merrier time knowing that you saved money and stayed within your budget.
Do you have a plan when it comes to holiday shopping? What do you do to stay out of debt when it comes to giving gifts? Add your comment below.