Since the holidays are six weeks away, I started making a plan! This always makes the holiday season easier. I have a lot of family members to buy for during the holidays. Having moved this year Mark and I decided to buy some practical household items instead of gifts for each other, boring I know. It makes the most sense for us this year and once we made the decision it relieved a lot of stress. Instead we are going to stick to stockings, which will be fun to shop for and on budget. Taking ourselves out of the equation between the two of us we still have 11 people on our holiday gift list. Eleven! It could easily get out of control in terms of budget, so here are a few easy steps to keep on track.
SET A GIFT BUDGET:
You would think this is the most obvious first step when considering your holiday shopping, but the key is to write it down. Don’t think of what you want to buy or how many people you need to purchase gifts for, set a budget that works for you. What can you afford? What are you comfortable with? What amount won’t add stress to your holiday season? Be honest and realistic with yourself and/or your partner. Mark and I had an honest conversation on what we could afford and work best for both of us. We set an approximate budget of $50 per person, which is $25 each as we are sharing the cost. I can easily budget for $275 plus the $50 on Marks stocking.
MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE:
Take a moment to make a list of all the people you need to buy for this year, then set aside some time to add a few gift ideas or even dream items you would love for that person. By being very clear on what you want to purchase it is easy to see if you will come in on budget. I find once I have made my list of those I need to buy for plus the gift ideas, I go online to price out the items. When I am finished I have a list of names, gift ideas and approximate budget per person.
If possible shop online. It is easy to cost compare and will save time not having to deal with holiday traffic. There are many sites to look for and save items onto such as Pinterest or Amazon. If you are able to favorite items you can go back and see which price works best for you. Plus you don’t have to set aside extra time after work to drive around and pick up gifts, everything will arrive to your front door!
CROSS OFF YOUR LIST:
I don’t know about you but nothing makes me feel better or that I’ve accomplished a task than crossing an item off my list. With my holiday list I like to cross off the person I have bought for and update the amount I spent. I can see if I am staying on budget that way. Also I may be a few dollars over on one gift and a few under on another so it’s easy to see that I am on track!
EXPENSIVE DOESN’TALWAYS MEAN BETTER:
My niece and nephew are young and what they love most about the holidays is having everyone together! Buying them ten different gifts, although it would be extremely fun to purchase, wouldn’t make a difference to them. When I was working my contract job, I would make homemade gifts for everyone, funny how those are the ones they still have. Remember that a small thoughtful gift can mean more than something that cost a lot.
To all my frugalista’s out there, I wish you luck. I think the holidays can be stressful when it comes to money. Know how much you have in your budget for your gifts, but also consider holiday drinks, dinner out with friends and the occasional cab ride. I know how great I will feel come January 1 when I have savings in my account and no debt! What a great way to kick off the new year. This is what I wish for all of you. If you have 20 people to buy for and only an extra $100 to spend then get creative! Make an ornament or give a small thoughtful gift or maybe a nice bottle of wine or maybe a gift certificate to their favorite coffee shop. It really is the thought that counts!
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