Ooops! Spent Too Much On Holiday Gifts…Again

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Christmas giftsWhy do we do it every year?

Why do we overspend on friends and family during the holidays? Because it’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’d have to guess that it’s because you’re in a good mood and maybe the bargains are especially sweet? I think it’s deeper than that. At least for me.

This year I did spend a little bit more than I intended. Not because I didn’t save or have a budget. But because it’s a happy time, and gifting makes me think about how much I love my family. I love shopping for things that I know they need or will love.

Being on a budget at the holidays does suck. I have always hated not being able to just spend what I want. Most of us can’t.

So how do you keep from Spending Too Much On Holiday Gifts…Again?

Here are the techniques I use every year:

Set a budget. Yes, I know it sucks. You really have to sit down and think about who you will be buying gifts for. This master list will come in handy next year when you begin your shopping. I try to allocate money for family first, then a few friends and colleagues. Figure out how much you will need, then proceed to step 2.

Open a Christmas Club Account. It’s a little dated I know. I have one and it works great! I take the annual budget amount for my gifts and divide that by 12. I set up an automatic transfer from my checking every month and forget about it until November 1st.  That’s when I withdraw the money and start spending! I take that sum and work through the people I’m going to buy gifts for. If you prefer, you can set up this account and call it the Gift Account. Therefore, you could use it all year long for birthday, anniversaries and the holidays.

Use cash. When I withdraw the money on November 1st it’s in the form of cash. Greenbacks in your hand are real. You will think twice before using it. Trust me it works. That sweater you saw may be a great deal, but watching those dollars vacate your wallet makes you think harder about your purchases. Sometimes if it is a large purchase, you may get a better deal for paying with cash. It never hurts to ask!

Negotiate when you can. I often go in stores and flash my military I.D. Why? Sometimes I’ll get an additional discount on purchases. It really adds up! It doesn’t hurt to ask for additional discounts even if you aren’t a veteran. If you are buying in bulk, ask for a little extra discount. Remember, it never hurts to ask!

Buy based on need. This year I did just this. My kids really needed a new home computer. The thing is like 92 in computer years! They really needed it for high school homework. I also bought plane tickets for my wife’s parents to visit. She has visited them, but the kids and I haven’t seen them in 5 years. So that was, in my opinion, a need. They are getting older and my children have changed a lot in 5 years. Buying based on what people really need prevents the splurge factor. It kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Holidays can be stressful. Especially if you overspend and get that big bill come January. Vow that in coming years you’ll take my ideas, and be of good cheer! To get these articles as they come out, subscribe here. It’s completely free!