I know this should have been posted before this past Christmas, but this still would be useful to better prepare you for next Christmas and Holiday season. I know some of you have started writing New Year resolution that probably includes saving money and traveling, so hopefully this list would help you jump start your resolution..:)
For those of you who are celebrating Christmas or even live in the country where Christmas is celebrated commercially, the end of the year season could mean damage to your wallet. But of course, there are ways to shop smart without doing too much damage to your bank account, here are the tips that you may use:
1. Budget your expenses.
Like anything with spending, always start with a budget. You must know how much and what are the price range of gifts you want to buy and how much reduction you can take on your bank account. Once you settle with the number, try to keep it and always keep track against your spending.
2. Write down all of the expenses.
Gift shopping can be a little crazy sometimes, especially with all the sale that’s going around. Sometimes you end up buying stuff that you don’t need just because it’s on a bargain. The most important thing is, to keep track your spending by writing down all of the expenses you have spent. This way, you know if you’re within the limit of your budget or over, if it’s time to stop or to buy more…
3. Cash vs. Credit card.
This is the conservative way of spending really. The only reason that it’s good during holiday shopping is that you can keep track your spending without being over budget. If you use your credit card, you end up charging more than you can pay, and if you can’t pay, you end up paying those high interest. You don’t want that, do you? Unless you really did #2, and you are fully aware that you’ll be able to pay all the charges next time the bill arrives, then go ahead with charging it in your credit card. The best way is to use one credit card with the amount of limit that matches your holiday spending budget. Therefore, once the card declines, you know that you’re already over budget. In a way, the strategy of paying things off with credit card is probably good once you know you can manage to keep it within budget. Look at it as a delayed payment because you spend them now, but pay them all off a month later.
4. Get the easy gifts out early.
There are people on your list that you would rather give cash instead of looking for the actual gifts. This usually goes to people like the paper boy, the hairdresser, mail man, trash collectors, part-time maid, etc. It’s always nice to have them out early to get it out of the way. If not, keep the cash out in the envelope, so you make sure that you’ll give it to the person and not last-minute. There are people who even sets aside money for cash gifts before thanksgiving. I think that’s a good idea! That way those presents don’t have to come out of December shopping budget.
5. Buy them in bulk.
With gifts, we usually send Christmas or Happy New Year card. Some may even print our own Christmas card. Buy them early and in bulk, so it’ll cost a lot cheaper. (this goes for birthday, congratulation and thank you cards too). Stuff like gift bags, wraps, gift bows, should also be a lot cheaper if you get them in bulk.
6. Plan in advance.
With holiday season, sale usually comes around. If you happen to go to a store which has early sale and you find a nice gift that you thought of giving to a person on your list.. why not buy it early? Do it little by little and not last minute because by then, most of the stuff are probably gone and you wouldn’t get a nice deal and ended up to just settle with whatever in front of you. Besides, if you plan in advance, you’d probably able to give a more thoughtful gift and more personalized, not just another perfume or gift card
7. Focus Focus Focus.
Along with having a budget, I think it’s also nice that you focus on your spending for gifts. Some people may even take it to another level by having a special saving dedicated for the year end holiday. So, save early, even from the beginning of the year. Why not? especially if you plan more than just buying gifts for the holiday… like holiday vacation, perhaps? many people in Indonesia would usually take the time to go on vacation with their family, since the time off might be quite long. Plan early for this. Don’t do anything last minute, that way you can spend smart by having the time to research on the best price that would give you the most fun, without really burning a hole in your pocket. And you’ll know way in advance how much money you have to set aside every month because if you have to rely on the money you have left at the end of the year, you might be stuck at home.
8. Make a list.
People sometimes forget to do this. But it’s actually quite helpful even if you do remember to make them, don’t forget to keep them so that you’ll have a handy list of stuff you gave to people the year before. So when the holiday comes around again next year, you won’t end up buying the same thing for them all over again. Wouldn’t that be a shame?