The winter holidays tend to be the time of year that makes me lose my mind with joy. I love everything about it. I love the decorating, the food, the cookies, Santa, snow men, holiday concerts, cold weather, the fact that it is the only time of year we’re not in soccer season, etc. Because of my love of the season, I have been known to go over board with the holiday shopping. To avoid this from happening again I developed a system I’ve been following for the past few years to save money holiday shopping, and I thought I’d share it with you. Here are the rules and steps to follow.
7 Ways to Save While Holiday Shopping
- Create of list of people you are shopping for: Over the years my holiday shopping list has grown exponentially. I got married. I had kids. People in my family had kids. The kids went to school and got teachers. I became good friends with my neighbors, and on and on. So every year I sit down with my family, and we create a list of everyone we might want to buy presents for.
- Budget per person how much you want to spend: Don’t think about what you want to buy for each person, think about how much money you want to spend on each person. Through good bargain shopping you can almost always find what you are wanting to buy for each person later. The budget demands that you shop at your best, helps you get the most bang for your buck, and keeps you from overspending.
- Analyze and adjust your holiday gift list and budget: Look at the list and budget you have created. When you add it all up are you spending more than you have or do you have more to spend? Does everyone that is on your winter holiday gift list really need to be on that list? For example, do you really need to buy Aunt Bertha who you haven’t talked to in 17 years a gift? Probably not.
- Don’t forget about budgeting for charity gift giving: Haven’t you heard the commercials? Christmas time is a time for giving. Joking aside, the winter holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to help your children learn about how to give to others who might be struggling. Every year on my list we have a special category for charitable giving. The family picks this charity together, we set the budget together, and we shop for it together.
- Create your wish list for who you’re buying for: Once you have created your who you are shopping for list, then you begin to think about what you want to buy for each person. It may seem odd, but at this point I only sort of think about my budget. I create the list of what I want to buy, and then I figure out how to, in Tim Gunn of Project Runway’s words, “make it work”within my budget. For example one year I decided I wanted to buy my mother-in-law a big Coach purse. Sure I had not budgeted $400 to $600 for my mother-in-law. But because I had planned all of this way ahead of time, when I happened on huge Coach sale at Dillard’s, I found exactly what I wanted for $125, barely over what I had budgeted for her that year.
- Shop year round: That brings me to my shop year round rule. I like to be done with my holiday shopping by Black Friday or at the very least Cyber Monday. I find that prices between Thanksgiving and Christmas go up, and the big bargains to be had are all over by this time of year. Besides, I really don’t enjoy shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the crazy crowds.
- Track your spending and what you’ve purchased: If you’re like me and you’re shopping all year round you sometimes forget purchases that you have hidden away in your secret hiding place. So, I like to keep a password coded (to keep out sneaky lookey loos) spreadsheet on my computer. On it I have who I am shopping for, how much I am spending, and what I’d like to buy for them. As I make my purchases I check things off of my list, and when I’ve completed my list, I’m done shopping. Of course that doesn’t really help me remember where I’ve hidden all of the gifts, but it does stop me from over buying and spending too much. Perhaps I need to add a “where I’ve hidden the gifts” category to my list.
There you have it. My method to save money holiday shopping. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me over the years. Let me know how it goes.
What do you do to save money during holiday shopping? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.