The holidays can be a hectic (and expensive!) time of year. But with a little planning and some discipline, sticking to your target budget and keeping stress to a minimum is a completely attainable goal. By following these holiday guidelines, you can become a smart shopper in no time.
Make a List… And Set a Budget
Planning ahead makes it easier to stay on track, especially if you take the extra time to estimate how much your gifts will cost. That way, you can determine if you need to reevaluate your gift choices to avoid racking up your credit card bills.
Speaking of credit cards, the holidays are a great time to redeem your cash back rewards. If you’ve been diligent about letting your rewards accumulate throughout the year, the end of the year is a great time to reap the benefits of your patience.
Try Money-Saving Gift Exchanges
Don’t feel obligated to spend $100 on every family member, friend, and coworker. Setting a cost limit for all your gift exchanges will help keep things fair and manageable. You can also try a white elephant gift exchange—where the goal is to give the gift of laughter rather than something sentimental. That way, you can purchase a funny item from a thrift store or even just give a random item you might have laying around the house! The more creative, the better.
In addition to the monetary strain, holiday shopping can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Don’t try to tackle too much in one day. Take breaks and start your shopping early enough in the season that you won’t feel rushed.
Compare Prices Online
Skip the madness of shopping malls altogether by shopping online. Online stores make it easier than ever to compare prices and find great deals. Just make sure you pay attention to the shipping charges and try to find free shipping options whenever possible.
If you do need to shop at a brick-and-mortar store, remember that there are apps, like ShopSavvy, that can help you compare products and find better deals.
With all the talk of gifts and expenses, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important part of the holidays: spending time with loved ones. Maybe instead of gifts this year, the whole family can pitch in for a trip somewhere or an experience that will help bring everyone closer together and make some memories!
Don’t let the most wonderful time of the year make you feel bogged down by monetary obligations. Stay true to the real spirit of the season and keep quality time with loved ones as the main focus. And when it comes to gifts, plan ahead and take your time to avoid feeling overwhelmed or blowing your budget. Following these simple guidelines will make you into a smart shopper in no time.