Four Steps to Help You Avoid the Holiday Empty Wallet Syndrome
The Holidays are upon us. You know we are a materialist nation when our list of holidays includes shopping specific days. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all catchy names to make shopping and spending seem like you just can’t afford to miss it! These days have become part of the post-Thanksgiving tradition for many and while it can be a great way to save money on gifts for the upcoming holidays, unfortunately they can also lead to holiday overspending. Here are four ways to avoid experiencing Totally Broke Tuesday:
Make a List Ahead of Time
Think of Christmas shopping as a game and your list is your strategy. Deviate from the plan and you’re destined to lose the game (and some extra money). Have a list of the gifts you are purchasing for specific people (not just an ‘idea’) and the stores you intend to buy from. Keep in mind that these great deals that the stores are offering are designed to get you in the door in hopes that you will spend more than you originally planned so you must stay strong. I find it helpful to have a thrifty friend along. This shopping teammate is someone who isn’t afraid to tell me that something isn’t on my list and therefore shouldn’t be purchased. If you don’t have a frugal friend who is willing to brave the upcoming shopping holidays with you, just make it a point to stick to your list.
Set a Budget
$50 for each child and $25 for each grandchild may seem a little cookie cutter, but it is a great way to stay on track and also not hurt any feelings. Keep in mind that you are not the only one who is feeling a pinch in your wallet every year after Christmas. And typically if you bring up a gift cost limit with family and friends, they are happy to agree to one.
Comparison Shop Before You Even Leave Your House
Dive into the newspaper ads and search the web to make sure that you are getting the best deals. Be sure to factor in travel costs to stores farther away. Often you can get a gift for much less locally when you factor in the added gasoline and time it will take you to get to a destination shopping area. Not only are you helping your local small businesses, the convenience of not having to navigate through a big warehouse store can be priceless.
Know When to Stop
‘Overtime’ in the Holiday shopping game is expensive and exhausting. It is important to know when to stop and to stick to your limits that you set for everyone. No going over! If you find the perfect gift after you have already spent on a person, return the first one. The holidays are really about spending time with your family and friends and not about gifts. If you cannot afford to buy gifts this year and you like to bake, I guarantee that if you bag up a couple homemade cookies for everyone and bring it to the gathering, you will be a hit. I am not a great baker but I make a mean snack mix so I pour a little into holiday bags for everyone on my list.
Next Tuesday should be a celebratory ‘Triumphant Tuesday’, a time to sit down with a latte (or your drink of choice) and think of all the money you saved while sticking to your holiday budget. Heck, have two. You deserve it!
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at LSS Financial Counseling!
Author Cherrish Holland is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling.