The leftover turkey has been made into sandwiches. The crowds of Black Friday shoppers have dissipated and Cyber Monday has passed. If you’re like most Americans, you spent an average of $471 this weekend, and you’re not quite finished yet.
There were plenty of deals to be had on Black Friday, but far too many of us bought things we hadn’t planned on buying simply because they were a bargain. Linda, an Old Navy shopper, just couldn’t resist short sleeved Vintage America tees for $5 each. She now has five items that she never planned on purchasing. And while she was there, she picked up a logo hoodie and a long scarf, neither of which she had set out to buy. But, the sale prices simply were too good to pass up. Linda’s holiday shopping budget (if there ever was one) decreased by about $43 at just one of her favorite stores.
Then came Cyber Monday, the perfect opportunity for Chris to buy a Castmaster shirt for his son-in-law. He’d looked at the shirt several times in the past week or so, and was waiting for Cyber Monday to make the purchase. With credit card in hand, he logged on to Bass Pro Shop and found that the shirt had actually been marked up by about six dollars. What would have cost just under $25 before the weekend cost $32 on Cyber Monday. Maybe Monday wasn’t quite as Cyber as we had hoped.
So where are we going so wrong? How are we missing some of the very best deals and spending money on things we really don’t want or need? How can we get out holiday budgets under control and keep them there?
Here are a few simple tips:
- Begin by deciding exactly how much you are able to spend for the holidays. Try not to be too low, but keep it a manageable amount. Nobody wants to see their checking balance dwindle and their credit balance increase too much.
- Once you have decided on the amount, begin by making a list and checking it twice, just like Santa. List each person you plan to buy for and one or two ideas of gifts that he/she might like. It’s fine to tell people that you’re celebrating on a budget and asking what they would most like in a certain price range.
- One person who definitely should not be on your holiday gift list is yourself. Too many people spend too much money on themselves for the holidays. Hopefully others will give to you. You don’t need to buy for yourself.
- Once you have a list, try to stick to it. Impulse buying is surely the biggest single hazard of the holiday shopping season. Just because something is very nice or has a very good price, doesn’t mean that you ought to buy it. If it is not on your holiday shopping list, put your hands in your pockets, look the other direction, and keep on walking.
- Crowded stores and huge sales are part of the holiday season, and are beginning earlier each year. Stores all have products to sell, and they compete to sell as many items as possible. You’re almost sure to see offers of a drawing for a dream vacation, receiving a free electronic device, or winning a shopping spree. While these are all fine and good, you don’t really need them and your odds of winning anything are actually very small.
- Don’t necessarily wait for the big sales to do your shopping. Some of the best deals possible are found during clearance sales, during the summer, and at other times throughout the year. If you have something already stashed away, you won’t have to buy for someone on your list.
- Consider making some of your own holiday gifts. Some really nice gifts can be easily made, saving even more money. If you knit or crochet, start making afghans and sweaters for the coming year. If you sew, consider making a remembrance quilt from scraps. Jewelry making is very easy, fun to do and quite inexpensive. If you enjoy baking, virtually everyone loves cookies, brownies and cake.
Hopefully, nobody will go deep into debt this holiday season. If we try to shop thoughtfully, carefully and considerately, we can do it!
As always, maximize your style and minimize your spending~