Now that the holiday season is safely past it does not mean you can forget about gift giving for nine months. In fact, you’re behind if you haven’t given it much thought yet. I used to be that way. Every gift occasion was a budget surprise but with these four steps you can learn from my mistakes.
In order to be prepared first identify which occasions you will spend money on to give gifts. If it helps, look through your checkbook or budget software such as Quicken 2011. Put the monetary amount next to each.
Don’t forget to include the unknown. These are the presents you don’t give regularly such as for coworkers having babies or getting married. Heck, even your friends and family may elope or have a little bundle before the year is out.
Step 2: Budget
Add up the cost for the gifts planned in step 1. For the average person the number is probably shocking once calculated. It was for us! I went back and trimmed the amount for various items on the gift list until the annual amount was a reasonable and affordable amount. There is no magic number so each person will have to decide for themselves.
Take the final number and divide it by 12 and there’s your monthly gift number for the budget. Set aside into a sinking fund for gifts to use when buying presents on the list. This is how we had a debt-free Christmas.
Step 3: Shop
Because you know which presents you need all year, shop throughout the year for them. This way you can take advantage of sales and specials. My mother is so good at this she has a gift closet that she does her shopping from when it’s time to give out presents.
Because you’ve planned, budgeted and shopped throughout the year gift giving stress is mostly removed. I say mostly, because you may still have that one person on the list for whom it’s impossible to find the right present.
These steps helped me take the craziness out of holidays. What are you tips on giving gifts?
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