While you may be tempted to “deck the halls” during the holiday season, don’t let your festive spirit put you into major debt. Think about the whirlwind of bills that will come due in January if you overspend now. It is possible to spread some cheer without breaking the bank.
Decide how much you want to spend before you start shopping.
Either set a price limit for each person on your list or for the total amount you plan to spend. And, don’t just budget for gifts. Consider everything you spend during the holidays on food, entertaining, decorating and traveling.
Use cash or checks instead of credit cards.
If you suffer from a lack of control when using credit cards, leave them at home when you go shopping. Spending only the cash you have on hand will help you maintain control. Shopping with a list can also help you avoid impulse purchasing and keep track of what you’ve already bought for each person.
Buy gift cards or certificates instead of presents.
Another way to keep track of what you’ve spent on your loved ones is to get them each a gift certificate to their favorite store. Plus, it will help you stick to your budget. Compare prices before you buy. Before you head to the mall, go online to comparison shop and find deals. And look for online retailers that offer free shipping.
Shop outside the mall.
Off-the-beaten-track retailers, thrift shops and rummage sales may offer deals you can’t find in the mall.
Some of the most cherished gifts involve more time and effort than money. Handmade and home-baked gifts are always appreciated. Or, put together a basket full of inexpensive but thoughtful items for a special person on your list.
Ship your gifts early.
The longer you wait to send your packages, the more money it will cost to get them there on time.