Sales and bargains can be exciting, as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and other sales kick off the holiday shopping season. However, shoppers need to be cautious — excessive spending in pursuit of the “perfect” holiday can be a source of more stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the need to find the right gift for everyone on your list, here are some tips:
Firstly, remember what’s important: The holidays should be about spending time with loved ones, friends or family.
Focus on the Can not the Cannot: Becoming stressed by social & materialistic expectations takes away from holidays and can make you dread this time. Focus on what you can do – not on what you can’t.
Draw up a budget: And stick to it! Don’t be afraid to cutback. Maybe organize a gift exchange with friends or family with a set spending limit. When you do hit the shops, try to use cash only, no credit cards.
Avoid stressful shopping situations: Choose quieter times to avoid crowds, do research in advance, make a list including where to find items. It’s easier to make smarter budgetary decisions when you’re not stressed or under pressure.
Do a little at a time: Spread out gift shopping and festive food & drink buying over the course of the month.
Prioritize: Make a list of who you wish to buy for and prioritize them. Get what needs to be bought first and the remainder of your budget can go on those lower down the list.
Manage expectations: Talk to the kids. If they get lots of gifts from extended family, agree a modest present budget within the household. Explain that not every child has the same opportunities. Kids too can get caught up in the commercialism & pressures of the season.
Get Creative: Make your own gifts, from baking holiday specialties, making handcrafts, to collating photobooks or framing a favorite photo. Often these personal, handmade gifts are cherished more than anything shop bought.
Delegate: Taking on all the work can also mean footing the bill. If you’re hosting a get together, ask everyone to bring a dish or a bottle. Or if you don’t want to host, explain this to your nearest & dearest, they will understand and may even relish the opportunity to host themselves.
Define what’s important about holidays for you & your family: Much of what makes the holidays so special doesn’t cost a penny; simple walks or outdoor activities, checking out the neighborhood lights, cooking & baking together, watching movies and visiting friends or family. Create your own traditions, something unique (& free) to do every year
Plan Ahead: Start planning now for next year. Take note of this year’s spending and start setting money aside in February or March. It can be as simple as saving loose change or adding $10 a week to a savings account. This will help reduce stress next year.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of author and should not be construed as specific investment advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, no representation is made to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. Any tax advice contained herein is of a general nature. Further, you should seek specific tax advice from your tax professional before pursuing any idea contemplated herein.
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