Do you have a set budget to spend on Christmas gifts? Do you go into debt every year at Christmas time? Without setting up a budget, you have already open yourself up to overspend on buying Christmas gifts. Before you even start shopping, you should sit down and determine how much money you can spend without whipping out the credit cards. I’ve found that stashing part of my tax refund is a great way to fund my Christmas budget. The last two years, this method has worked out fantastic and it feels great knowing that I can get my kids gifts without breaking the bank.
According to Dave Ramsey, the average family (based upon a combined salary of $50,000 a year) spends $800 dollars on Christmas presents each year. But if you make less, you should spend less money. Keep in mind that you can adjust your budget higher or lower depending on your financial health. But there is no reason that you should rack up credit card debt for Christmas gifts. Once you are trapped in credit card debt unless you pay off the balance when you receive your bill, it is hard to dig yourself out and those Christmas charges now cost you more money in interest.
Let’s take a look at some simple ways to prevent overspending at Christmas this year.
Create a List of Gifts to Buy
The best way to stay on budget is to create a list of gifts that are on your kid’s Christmas list to Santa. If possible, search the Internet before heading to the store so that you can put a price next to the item on your list. As you purchase a gift off your list, cross it off and keep a tally of how much you spent so far so that you don’t accidentally overspend on gifts. Always buy gifts for your immediate family and only buy gifts for Christmas parties, extended family, and friends if you have money left in your budget after you get everything on your list.
Make Homemade Gifts
Making homemade gifts are perfect for those on your list but got cut due to budget constraints. Yes, it would be easier to just buy a gift but giving something that you made with love but people tend to love homemade gifts. There are so many things that you can make from Christmas cookies, candy, crafts, and pictures of the kids are just a few ideas. Here are 101+ inexpensive homemade Christmas gifts to make for family and friends this year.
Stop Trying to Keep Up with the Jones
How many times have you overheard your friend or neighbor getting a new fancy item that just came out and find yourself wanting it too? It is an easy trap to fall into and then you notice that your trying to keep up with the neighbors. We all want other people to think we have our finances and life together and our house, cars, and stuff we have inside the house becomes a secret competition. Stop comparing what other people are doing and stick to your budget.
Limit Impulse Buys
Impulse buys can get you in trouble without you even realizing it. Yes, an item may cost a small amount of money but over time those purchases can quickly add up. Just because you get an unexpected gift from someone that wasn’t on your shopping list doesn’t mean that you have to go buy them something. You can make them a homemade gift if you have any materials left or simply send them a Thank You note.
Avoid Buying Your Own Gifts
As you are out shopping, it isn’t unusual to find an item that you would love to get for Christmas. But spending money on yourself takes away from your Christmas budget. According to the National Retail Federation, 60% of shoppers are buying their own gift while they are out shopping instead of waiting until Christmas day. Don’t fall into this trap. Retailers are well aware that gas prices have been lower this year and with businesses suffering because of COVID-19, they are offering deeper discounts to move their products.
Skip Eating Out
Eating out is expensive and can easily bust your budget especially if you do it several times during the holidays. Always plan your shopping trips after you eat lunch or take a snack with you to hold you over until you can get home to fix a meal. Even stopping for coffee or drinks can add up quickly too.
Do Price Comparisions
One of my favorite ways to save money, especially if I am trying to stretch my budget, don’t hesitate to check to see if you can find the item cheaper somewhere else. Just keep in mind if you are ordering online make sure that you consider any shipping costs when doing your price comparison. Stores will also typically match sale ads as long as you have the ad with you. It is worth trying even if the store doesn’t offer that service. Most will because they rather get the sale than their competitor.
Look for Coupons
Store apps like Target sometimes offer coupons to customers who use the app. Do shop stores that offer incentives cash or rebates. We suggest Ebates, Kohls, Target, and Children’s place. Just keep in mind that when you go back to shop the incentive that you stay within a few dollars of the reward. Don’t get sucked into overspending at Christmas.
Also, if you are buying the gift sets with perfume, razors, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, or toiletries. Sometimes apps like coupons, Check Out 51, Ibotta (referral link), will have coupons or rebates available. These small savings can help you stretch your budget a bit further.
Scan All Your Recipts
There are apps like Fetch Rewards (referral link), Receipt Hog, Receipt Pal, will turn your receipts into points. After you accumulate a certain amount of points, you can convert your points to cash. It is a great way to get a small bonus for scanning all your receipts, not just at the holidays.
Don’t Shop to Early
Shopping may seem like a great idea but keep in mind that some of the latest and greatest toys don’t make their debut until the holiday season. Kids typically add the hottest toys and electronics to their Christmas list. If you have purchased all of your Christmas presents before Thanksgiving, you will have already spent your entire budget. Then when you see the deep discounts, you may be tempted to just get a few more gifts causing you to overspend or go into debt. Don’t fall into this money pitfall. Instead, wait to buy a few thing after Thanksgiving, even if you pick up a few items throughout the year if you find them on clearance.
The Christmas holidays can be a financial bust if you didn’t prepare a budget at the beginning of the year. You can set aside a monthly amount, do the 52-week savings plan, or hold on to part of your tax return so that you don’t overspend or go into debt during the holidays. It always feels good when you can buy Christmas presents without going over your budget or into debt.