You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and now you have the rest of your Christmas shopping to do. Amid holiday parties, family gatherings and business obligations, it’s time for many of you to begin annual holiday shopping, too!
The National Retail Federation’s latest survey finds that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $463 on family members, up from $458 last year and the highest in survey history. Average spending per person is expected to reach $805, with more than half of shoppers planning to splurge on non-gift items for themselves. And if you use credit cards, be prepared to go over budget by 25%.
Many people get emotional about selecting gifts for family members and loved ones. The desire to get the very best present is often in direct conflict with the reality of keeping your budget on target. Going overboard for Christmas and beginning 2016 in debt is not your best course of action.
Here at The Money Nerve, we believe that positive and intentional choices allow you to be deliberate about your spending during the holidays and beyond. Take a moment and examine some of the holiday emotions that may pop up out unexpectedly! Are you trying to “buy” love or attention? Is there family competition regarding who bought or received the “best” gift? Do you feel the need to purchase a gift for every person you know?
Stop. Think about your long-term goals for your life and how you want to recognize or honor the special people in your life. Be thoughtful. Attaching a personal, heartfelt message with a small present can be the greatest gift of all. Spread holiday cheer on a personal level. This is a season based on love and sharing. – Reconnect with the people who are most important to you.
Enjoy the holiday, the shopping and the people! See if these five tips help you navigate the holidays and make it easier on your wallet:
1. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “The early bird gets the worm.” So begin saving for next year’s holidays in January. Set aside $25-$75 per month. Use cash whenever possible.
2. Set your budget. If you traditionally tip a babysitter, a dog walker or special people who provide personal services at the end of the year, be sure to add that to your budget.
3. Make a gift list. List the amount you want to spend on family and friends and stick to it. If you bought gifts early, pull them out to wrap. I have friends who forgot they purchased gifts early, put the gifts in a safe place, and then found the items after the holiday season.
4. Find deals. Read those Sunday ads and use apps like RedLaser to price match items. You want to be sure you get the best price on your purchases.
5. It’s not the size of the gift, it is the thought behind it. You can give small “stocking stuffers” to colleagues: $5 Starbucks cards, a mini-bottle of Champagne, homebaked cookies, or a chance to win the lottery with a $2 Scratch off card. There are many small and fun ways to show people you care!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and more!