Christmas shopping lists with a budget
Stick to your Christmas shopping list budget and still find some fantastic gifts. Start the New Year without a huge credit card bill from your Christmas shopping.
Christmas is a bad time of year for the pocketbook, but you can stay out of Christmas debt with a few strategies: making a list of gifts before you go shopping and sticking to it, taking advantage of Internet deals and free shipping, personalizing gifts, and buying before the Christmas rush.
Before you head out to the ivy-decked mall, make a list of all the people you plan to shop for and a specific gift for each person on your list—not unlike Santa Claus. Retailers count on the Christmas season to make up for slow times of the year, so they spend a great deal of money on Christmas marketing. Hence, they know how to get you to spend money on gifts you hadn’t planned on. Be prepared to stick to your list and save yourself from the dreaded January credit card bill shock.
Avoiding the mall entirely may be a smart move. Shopping on the Internet could be perfect for you, especially if you don’t enjoy the crowds at the mall. Many retailers offer free shipping for the holidays as an incentive to shop with them. Take advantage of free shipping offers. Buying your Christmas presents on the Internet saves you time, gas money, and Tylenol.
If you’re considering Christmas shopping on the Internet or from catalogs, remember to order early. Both retailers and postal services are swamped at Christmas time. Factor in some extra time for shipping.
You likely won’t be able to buy everyone on your list a Bose stereo system or even a hardcover book. So what you can’t give financially, give thoughtfully. A personalized calendar or homemade throw pillow will probably mean much more to a loved one than a CD or a box of candy (though candy is always appreciated by me). Other thoughtful, inexpensive gift ideas include coupons for back rubs or chores, a tape of favorite songs, framed pictures, and anything homemade.
During the year when you think of great gift ideas for someone on your list, jot it down. If you can remember in December that your Aunt Bea has been pining away for a new ice cream scoop because her old one is falling apart, you can make her day with a very inexpensive gift. And she’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
As I mentioned earlier, marketers know that Americans are procrastinators and will rush to the mall as late as Christmas Eve desperate for something—anything—to put under the tree. So beat the system by shopping earlier in the year; yes, even earlier than the day after Thanksgiving. If you’ve already decided on specific gifts for each person on your list you can sit back and look for sales in the Sunday paper. If you wait until the week before Christmas you end up paying the asking price, which is usually higher than you’d seen earlier in the year.
Breaking your budget doesn’t allow you to truly enjoy Christmas. You end up worrying about how to pay the bills instead of worrying about which party to enjoy. So stay within your budget this year and enjoy the season.