It’s that time of the year again when hoards of people cram into shopping centers looking for the perfect gifts for the people they love. I personally hate the holidays. Not only does the entire meaning of whatever it is you celebrate get overlooked, but I would personally never ask people to buy me the things that I really want since they are generally too expensive (so I end up getting things I neither want or need). Although I do love giving gifts, the pressure of finding the “perfect” present for relatives I generally have nothing in common with can be exhausting. Do I sound like Scrooge yet? The holidays can do that to people. That’s why I’ve compiled some tips to prevent you from turning into a grouchy, near-broke civilian this holiday season.
1. Create a holiday budget: The holidays can get veerry expensive, and it’s not just because of buying gifts. Many forget to include things like holiday cards, office parties and travel expenses into their budget. When you have an idea of how much you’re able to spend on the holidays, you can make better decisions and know when it’s time to start reeling it in (and put down things you can’t afford).
2. Avoid using credit cards: Putting everything on your credit card can result in paying for the holidays well into spring, and no one wants to be reminded about Christmas when you can’t afford your spring vacation. Not only that, but you are way more likely to overspend when you don’t see the immediate effects of the purchase. Use your debit card or cash when you’re out buying gifts. This will keep you within budget and get you to make smarter choices.
3. Check your ego: Are you dating someone new or want to impress a new client? It’s easy to blow your budget buying extravagant gifts because you’re trying to be impressive. Remember, a simple but extremely thoughtful gift can oftentimes be just as or even more appreciated than something with a high price tag. It may feel great to be able to give a “wow” present, but you also don’t want to cross into “uncomfortable” territory if they’re unable to reciprocate. Thoughtful always trumps expensive, so don’t wait to the last minute and maybe order something that can be personalized like printed photos from instagram or something monogrammed.
4. Keep a list: A list with everyone that you need to buy for is key in not only ensuring that you don’t forget anyone important (overly sensitive aunt who will never forget you forgot about her), but also so that you don’t double up on someone who you’ve already purchased something for (socially awkward co-worker you got stuck with for secret santa).
5. Comparison shop!: Last year, and this year as well, I will complete almost all of my holiday shopping from the comfort of my own home. Not only are the best prices online, but I don’t need to deal with crowds and everything is delivered right to my door. Amazon is an amazing resource for getting the best prices, and promo codes can help you get further discounts. There are even coupons for eBay shipping on sites like Ebates. Check out my post for all my favorite apps and tools for shopping online.
6. Start NOW: Not only do you miss the good sales and don’t give yourself enough time for shipping for the great online deals, but waiting until the last minute generally results in also picking out shitty gifts. Give yourself the time for anything that needs to be custom made or that is made out of the country and needs time to ship (like my furry earmuffs from China I got on Ebay that were only $10 but take 12 days to get here). Popular items can also get backordered during the holidays, so stop procrastinating and save yourself the headache later.
I’m going to go eat some gingerbread and drink some eggnog and get into the holiday spirit by buying some gifts online. I’m sure that’s what baby Jesus would have wanted me to do .