How I Stick to my Christmas Budget Without Giving Crummy Gifts

            Photo by  Mink Mingle  on  Unsplash

            Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

A highly Googled topic, but the advice often doesn't factor in the fact that you actually want to give people gifts they like.  For many of us the holidays literally sneak up on you. You are busy working, shuttling children back and forth, paying your every day bills, and then all of a sudden its the week of Thanksgiving and you are putting together your Christmas budget.  

After years of going over my budget, I finally have learned how to successfully buy gifts that my family and friends love without going over my budget and compromising on gift quality.

1. Set-up a Christmas fund

In January, open a bank account designed for your 2018 holiday shopping.  Determine your Black Friday budget goal, and determine how much money you need to deposit monthly.  A word of advice, do not and I repeat DO NOT get a debit card for this account.  This will help resist the temptation to spend the money you set aside to buy gifts for your family and friends. If you are already tight on funds, try bringing your lunch to work two-days a week and the money you would have spent eating out with your co-workers, you can transfer into your Christmas fund.

2. Don't wait until Black Friday to start shopping

As amazing as many of those deals are, there are sales that you can take advantage of during the year.  If you know your children have been eyeing a new toy, you can take advantage of Veteran's Day sales or even the sales leading up to Black Friday.  Many of the toy stores this year offered buy one, get one toy deals prior to Black Friday.  Also, as hard as it is to do, if you buy your gifts early, don't give them to the recipient until the holiday.  You need to avoid overspending to replace the gift you gave pre-Christmas.

3. Consider using a Store Credit Card

Store Credit Cards that you can use across store families (think Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy) are a great way to purchase what you need and earn reward points.  Look at it this way, you are going to shop for yourself during the year, why not use the points to your benefit.  Some stores offer you up to 50% off of your purchase for obtaining the card.  If you follow this savvy shopping rule closely it will work in your favor.  Open the card, deposit what you would have spent into your Christmas fund with the money you saved, then pay the card off immediately! When you use your card you earn rewards, receive early access to sales, and get additional discounts for using your card.  These benefits will allow you to purchase gifts at discounted prices. 

Warning-if your credit is out of control or you are already underwater in debt, do not follow this tip! I don't want to trigger a debt relapse. Also, don't go crazy with store cards.  Find one store card that can meet your shopping and gifting needs.

4. Know your audience

Don't overspend on gifts to impress your family and friends.  Buy what you can afford and what you actually think they will like.  There is nothing more heart-wrenching then spending your hard earned money on someone who puts your gift at the top of their closet, never to be worn or used.  Make a budget and stick to it.  If your loved one or friend wants a gift that is outside of your price range, then give them a gift card that they can use towards their purchase.   Don't break the bank buying something you can't afford, don't waste your time making a craft that you know they will hate, and don't buy them just anything just so they will have something to open on Christmas day.  All three of those things are a waste of time and money.

5. Remember the Reason for the Season

I know that sounds cliche, you have heard that over a thousand times, but it is one of the best statements I've ever heard.  Sometimes your family and friends want your presence, instead of presents from you.  A few years ago, my friends and I decided to stop buying each other gifts.  Instead of buying Christmas gifts, we buy each other birthday gifts. This gift giving option allows you to spread out your money throughout the year.  We get together for a nice meal and just enjoy each other's company, one of the best gifts I could ask for. 

Chrystal Neely