By Kanisha Parks
You’ve seen those commercials where they ask the person’s Christmas shopping budget, right? And they’re like, “Um, about $500.00” Let’s be honest—most of us know good and well we don’t have that much to spend! Listen: there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. For some reason, when Christmas comes around, people throw the budget out the window and go all out. And when the next year rolls in, they find themselves embedded in debt. It’s really just not worth it. Yes, it’s great to give nice gifts, but if it’s going to cost you your light bill; it’s time to re-think your definition of “nice.” Remember: you can and will still have an amazing Christmas without going broke. (Besides, it ain’t their birthday anyway!)
1. Start NOW.
A lot of people think that waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to do their Christmas shopping is the best option, but this isn’t always the wisest idea, especially since you’re on a budget. These two days were created for big purchases—expensive jewelry, fitness equipment, laptops, iPhones, and other high-end toys and electronics. Being out on Black Friday can make you feel to the urge to purchase stuff you don’t really want or need, all in the name of the securing a good deal. Be wise and realize there are already a lot of deals now and even after Black Friday. You just need to know where to look. (See Tip #3).
2. Set a realistic budget and don’t budge it.
This is of the utmost importance. Make sure that when you set your Christmas spending budget, it’s an amount that you actually have to spend. (This is after all of the bills are paid). Remember that when Christmas is over, you still have a life to live.
3. Use cash.
Instead of resorting to using credit, take out cash when you shop. You are more likely to stick to your budget because you’ll be actively aware of how much you spend.
4. Decide where you can shop.
Depending on your budget, you will want to decide what stores are suitable for your coins. A lot of malls tend to be a bit more on the expensive side. Set your sights on stores like TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s, Kohl’s, and WalMart. Believe it or not, even dollar stores have nice gifts sometimes. Check in advance for any deals or sales they may be having. This way, you’ll find so many nice things at discounted prices, you may be able to purchase more than you were expecting.
5. Write a list of who and what to shop for.
When you have a tangible list of who you need to purchase gifts for, you won’t be as inclined to pick up unnecessary stuff just because “it’s a good deal.” When possible, you can also determine in advance what you want to get each person so you can find the best price for the item and avoid shopping on a whim.
6. Shop early (and maybe alone).
Try to shop when the stores aren’t as busy. When there are less people around, it’s just easier to get in, get what you want, and get on about your business. Also, it’s okay to shop by yourself if it’ll keep you from spending money that you don’t have just because the person who is with you can.
7. Have fun!
Don’t let Christmas shopping stress you out, girl! Enjoy yourself, your family, your friends, and being able to share this holiday season with them. That’s what it’s all about.