‘Tis the season for shopping! Are you one of those people who are already finished Christmas shopping or are you like me, waiting until the absolute last day I can ship before Christmas without having to pay extra for speedy delivery? Regardless of which type of shopper you are, it is easy to overspend and buy hasty, unexciting gifts because you didn’t plan ahead.
Before you head blindly into that mall, overjoyed with the Christmas spirit only to wake up in January to a nasty credit card hangover, here are some tips to help you spread and keep the joy:
Before you shop, you must prepare!
- First, make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to.
- Then, add some “Oops, you shouldn’t have because I didn’t” and some “Thanks for a lovely Xmas party” gifts.
- Check that list twice: did you forget an aunt, teacher or cousin?
- Add some cushion for the “I want one too!” and “Isn’t that so much fun!” gifts.
- Next, list how much you want to spend on each lucky gift recipient.
- Add it all up. Do you have enough in savings to cover this? No! Can you knock anyone off your list or cut back on some gift budgets?
- Now, list gifts you know you want to buy and email the remaining gift recipients for ideas.
Hit the Internet!
- Compare prices.
- Download coupons:
- Take advantage of free shipping or ship-to-store options.
- Sign up for promotions and deals from your favorite retailers.
- Buy what you want/can online.
Time to brave the stores!
- Use barcode scanner mobile apps like RedLaser, Shop Savvy, Amazon Mobile and GeoQpon to compare prices and find what you want for the lowest price at a store near you.
- Use coupons and sites like Coupon Sherpa that make it easy to save by allowing you to download coupons on your phone to scan at the register.
- Try to avoid the impulse buy (ahem, nobody really needs Rock’n Roll Santa), but know that you do have a little cushion for these spirit-inspired impulse buys.
- Avoid gift cards that expire.
- Check return and exchange policies at the stores where you buy and include gift receipts with your gifts.
- Don’t get roped into extended warranties and unnecessary accessories.
- Had enough? Buy a prepaid credit card, but be sure to check for hidden fees.
My favorite gift ideas:
- Wine aerator: It really does make wine taste better.
- Funny Styrofoam Go Cups: For the hostess with the mostest.
- Nespresso machine: The freshest coffee I have had outside of Paris.
- Lumiere Neocutis: Miraculous age-defying eyes!
- Moroccan hair oil: Silky and shiny hair.
- Margaritaville machine: It’s awesome!
- Allen Brothers’ meat: The best meat out there.
- WSJ wine: Great deals on unique and a wide-variety of wines.
- Godiva: Because everyone loves chocolate.
- Xbox Kinect: Fun for the whole family.
- Cash: Great gift for adult kids (P.S. $13k limit per person imposed by the IRS for 2011).
Christmas shopping can be fun as long as you prepare and budget appropriately so you aren’t more generous than your savings account can afford!
Steed Investments is an independent, fee-based firm based in Fort Worth, TX, that specializes in holistic financial planning and investment advice. Owner, Gelasia Steed, CFP®, is a personal financial shopper deciphering exactly what clients need to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Contact Gelasia for help with any financial advice need.