How many of you wait until 2 weeks before Christmas and head to the mall to load up with all of the gifts for family, friends, co-workers, service people, bus drivers, teachers, etc. And how much of that is slapped on your credit card only to cost you way more in interest over the next year or two?
Make 2011 the year that you pay for Christmas with cash only, stay on budget and get it done with time to spare so that you can actually enjoy the holidays. The best way to do that is to start planning now!
Start now by making a list of everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how large or small. Then take a look at your budget – how much can you realistically spend, in total, for Christmas gifts. Then break it down even further by setting a budget per person (ex. $10 – $20 per teacher, $50 per family member, $300 per child.). There is no “right” amount, made a decision that whatever amount fits into your budget is what you will stick to this year.
The good news is – since you are starting your holiday planning so much earlier this year, you have plenty of time to spend less money but be more creative. How often have you run out at the last-minute to pick up a gift and spent more than you should have because you hadn’t made a plan?
Instead of spending $50 on grandma’s new Christmas sweater that will sit in the back of her closet – spend only $20 but invest more time to make a nice scrap-book of photos from the past year or have the kids create a few paintings that you could frame, etc. Time is money when it comes to this sort of thing so make a plan to spend the time and save your money.
Now that you have your budget set and you’ve shifted your way of thinking about the gifts, it’s time to put together a list of gift ideas for each person? This doesn’t have to be set in stone but it will give you some things to look for throughout the next couple of months.
Keep this list in your purse or wallet at all times. Then, when you are out and about, you can refer to it and pick up items when they are on sale. Mark of the list as the year goes on so you will know what’s left to purchase. Be sure to designate one location in your hone for storing the gifts or you might have a problem finding everything when December rolls around.
If you spot a really great clearance sale or a special deal, think about picking up a few undesignated gifts that you can wrap and keep on hand to use as hostess gifts or in case you have a last-minute “Oops, I forgot about the gift for Mrs. Smith!” Once again…don’t forget to mark it on your list though. You don’t want to overspend on these types of things and have 20 picture frames lying around.
So, even though the thought of the holidays on the horizon my be a little overwhelming in July, taking a few minutes here and there over the next few months will really save you time, energy and money when the holidays do roll around in just a few quick months.
I’d love to hear all about how you save money around the holidays. Share them with me and all of our readers by posting them below.