Today is Black Friday and many people take advantage of the sales to do some or all of their holiday shopping. Planning for holiday shopping should start well in advance of today.
Preparing an annual budget should be one task in your year-end financial planning. My budget includes a line item for gifts which requires me to have segmented out how much to spend on Christmas (the December holiday we celebrate). In my less financially responsible past I shopped without a budget and spent too much.
Use a List
I create a spreadsheet every year and list everyone (including my hair stylist and the newspaper carrier) that I plan to give to that holiday season. The next step is to indicate how much I plan to give or spend for that person along with the actual planned gift item. I make sure the total fits in my holiday gift budget or else adjust until it does. The best thing is when it’s less!
One of the benefits of the recent economic times is that frugality and simplicity are more prevalent. This is the time to cut back if you haven’t already and just keep it up when better times return. One way to reduce expenses is to reduce the number of gifts given.
In past years, my sisters and brother gave each other gifts. Last Christmas my brother suggested drawing names for this year which we did earlier in the year. We also set a spending limit of $20. This added a new element of fun to selecting the gift in trying to find the best value within the limit.
Another way to cut back is to replace bought gifts with homemade. I plan to try a couple of frugal Christmas ideas and make simple gifts.
By this I don’t mean early in the day, but throughout the year. It’s not uncommon for me to buy gifts for the following year at day after Christmas sales. By knowing your budget AND your list you can be on the lookout for the right gift every shopping trip. Don’t forget to update your holiday list to keep track of what you have and still need.
Buy your holiday supplies AFTER the holiday. I am mortified if I run out of wrapping paper, gift bags or cards and have to pay full price. I stock up on these and paper goods (plates and napkins) when they’re marked down at least 75%. It’s also a good time to buy ornaments, lights, wreaths and trees.
By preparing and following these steps during the holidays the Boomer family can enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank. Do you use any of these to save during the holidays? What are your holiday shopping tips?