If I learned anything this past year, it’s how to manage my money. Going to school full time and working part time doesn’t show much promise to my negligent bank account. As a college senior only getting paid bi-weekly, I think I finally mastered the art of budgeting.
Holiday shopping is overwhelming for a lot of people financially struggling. Once in a store, it’s easy to spend well over your intended budget. I decided to create a guide to help buy everything you need this holiday while keeping your wallet happy.
Set a budget and only carry cash. There is a reason why I put this first, we all have to start somewhere. Keeping an initial budget holds you accountable and you’re more likely to think of creative gifts when your budget is limited. Limited spending options = not over spending. The most effective way to stick to your budget is leaving the credit card at home. If you only have cash you can’t whip out your card for unnecessary purchases. *Fun fact* You’re actually more likely to spend less money when purchasing with cash. It is proven it’s psychologically harder to hand over cash than swipe a card.
Who are you shopping for? Before even stepping foot into a store or opening your computer, compile a list of names you intend on shopping for. Also, make sure to keep a cap on the number of people you are buying for. Shopping for fifty people will definitely not help you save money in any way, unless you only plan on spending a few dollars on each person, which isn’t realistic. You’re broke, not cheap. Lists help you organize thoughts and help declutter your mind. If you wanted to take it step further you could rank the most significant people in your life at the top, they are usually the people you truly want to buy for.
Know what you’re buying first. On that same list, write down a few possible gifts next to each person, along with the price and store. Physically seeing the cost of an item will easily help you stay on budget, you will immediately know if it’s too much. Setting the same budget for each person is also a good idea. I feel better when I spend the same amount on every person.
Coupons, Coupons, Coupons. Pretty self explanatory. Coupons can be found almost everywhere from the internet, newspapers and store websites. Most online sites actually give you anywhere from 10% to 30% off when you sign up with your email. It is harmless, helps save you money and you can easily unsubscribe when your finished with your purchase.
Credit card trap. Stores will try and push a store credit card on you. It seems like a good idea at the time but it’s not. You will be stuck with card payments and if you can’t afford the payments you can easily damage your credit.
Don’t shop alone. Find a shopping partner! Like an exercise buddy, it’s easier to stay on track if you have someone else doing it with you. Shopping alone can easily turn into buying for yourself. It’s not selfish, it happens to all of us at our most vulnerable moments, when we spot a cute pair of shoes and dress to match on sale…How you can you resist?! A shopping buddy can keep you stay focused and not get distracted by what else is going on.
Then there’s December 26th…If you so happen to not care about being cheap or even better, not plan on seeing certain people until after Christmas, shop the 26th. After every holiday, stores slash their prices from fifty to eighty percent off, I promise you will snag a deal.
Reward yourself. By the end of it all if you stayed within your budget or spent less then treat yourself! Sticking with a budget is more difficult then people think. Purchasing something for yourself at the end will be more rewarding, knowing you didn’t over spend and hit everyone your list.
Hope this helps, Merry Christmas!