Have you ever overspent during the Christmas holiday season? You wanted to make everyone happy, see the joy on your children’s faces when they open their gifts, be nice to colleagues and neighbors, and just give during the season of giving. And then you felt anxious, stressed and guilty when you received your credit card bills in January and wish you had not spent as much. You are not the only one. Many of us give into the temptation of emotional purchases and end up overspending during the Christmas season. But with a little planning and a thoughtful approach, you can have a great holiday and make your loved ones happy without breaking the bank or going into debt.
Chase the deals.
The recession has forced merchants both online and offline to adapt to the American shrinking wallet. To compete successfully for your hard earned dollars, almost all online and offline retailers offer plenty of discounts. Watch out for them – comparison shop and match prices. If you are looking for something specific, do your research and wait for an item to go on sale. Unless you are looking at luxury goods that retain their value and are purposely rarely on sale, almost everything else will be at one point discounted. Especially during the holidays, stores need to move merchandise and increase sales volume. However, be careful not to buy something you did not intend just because it is a great deal.
Set a limit.
An easy way not to give into emotional spending is to set a price limit for gifts. Many large families find it very useful when there are many people to buy gifts for. However, it can be an issue because different family members have different means. So, instead of everyone giving according to their means, discuss and agree with your family members on a specific arrangement that will keep all of you from running into financial trouble. If you have decided to set a price limit on gifts, make sure it fits in the budget of the least wealthy family member. Or many argue that gifts on Christmas should only be for kids. If you have a large family, it may be useful to agree on a similar approach that will help everyone. Finally, if your family is not on board to set price limits across the board, set your own limits according to your spending plan and stick to them.
Focus on thoughtful gifts.
A golden rule of frugal gift giving is to be personal and thoughtful. And how much more meaningful can it get? Throughout the year, pay attention to what your loved ones need. They don’t have to necessarily give you hints on what they want for Christmas. And what you give them doesn’t necessarily have to be on the top of their wish list. But everyone will be touched that you paid attention to what they really need. It could be something very trivial; it doesn’t have to be big to make an impact, as long as it is thoughtful and meaningful, it shows you care.
If you have a creative side, explore it. Anything homemade and handcrafted is some much more meaningful and touching. Homemade cookies, Christmas tree ornaments, calendars with favorite family pictures are some of the ideas you can explore. Use your imagination and your talent and have fun. And if you cannot or do not have the time to handcraft a gift, there are always small local stores you could explore. The person you offer this gift to will appreciate you are supporting a local business.
If you have kids, take the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to teach your children about the season of giving. Why not take them to volunteer and show them how rewarding it is to give your time and efforts to help the less fortunate.
Take a deep breath and relax.
Let’s not forget the real meaning of Christmas and God’s great love for us! Christmas doesn’t have to be filled with the pressures that society puts on us to give gifts to everyone you know. It can be, but it is also about celebrating God’s love, spending quality time with your family, helping and giving those less fortunate, and some well-deserved rest. Think about what Christmas really means to you. It is you who gets to decide how you want to spend it and how much it costs you. The rest is consumerism.