What? It’s NOVEMBER?!? Yep! November has arrived and that means the holidays are almost upon us. But before you panic, grab your wallet and keys and dash off to the nearest toys store, hold still for a moment and take a deep, relaxing breath. You, little homeowner, have still got time. Now, there are a lot of mistakes that you might have made in the past when it came to your holiday spending: let go of that. This year, you can and you will do better. You can avoid overspending and overstressing yourself during this shopping season and here are 10 ways how. Read these easy-avoidable mistakes and do the opposite this November/December so that you can enjoy this most magical time of the year.
1. DON’T Wait Until the Last Minute
It’s a trap! Special holiday sales are a great way to trick our minds into thinking that if we wait closer to the holiday we’ll get a better deal. When in reality, you’ve waited for this sale only to find that there is a limited amount of the items you want and you have to spend extra money on express shipping or a more expensive product. Shop early when you can think clearly and rationally about your purchases and when there are plenty of options still lining the shelves.
2. DON’T Shop Without a Budget or a List
Your shopping list and budget are like your bodyguards; they will only protect you. When you shop without a list and budget you are more susceptible to the justifications of “just one more thing.” Write down exactly what you want to buy and what is the maximum amount of money you are honestly okay with spending. Do this for stocking stuffers and neighborhood gifts as well, for those cutesy items at the checkout can turn into financial monsters.
3. DON’T Spend the Same Amount on Each Child
Naturally, you don’t want to show favoritism amongst your children, but spending more money on one child’s toy than another is completely okay. If your kids do happen to compare prices, (which most kids don’t really pay that much attention to anyway) then explain to them that each child was given the gifts that they needed most. And because each child has different needs, some of those gifts will be more expensive than others. Not trying to spend the exact amount of money for each child will make a huge financial difference in your holiday shopping.
4. DON’T Underestimate the Accessibility of Coupons
There are a LOT of vendor coupons and promotional codes around this time of year and they are extremely accessible. Be on the lookout for promo codes and coupon codes when you shop online or research products online. Also, don’t hesitate to search the internet for printable and digital coupons that you can take with you to certain stores.
5. DON’T Use Your Credit Card
Credit cards are lethal for holiday shoppers. Most people end up spending more money when they purchase with credit cards then when they make purchases with cash. Using cash will give you no choice but to stay within your budget and truly rescue you from over-expenditure.
6. DON’T Forget About Your Party Costs
If you enjoy hosting annual parties this time of year then now is the time to prepare. Plan your parties and events today and make a list of all the things you will need. Once again, procrastination is your enemy so don’t wait until the week of the event. Create a list and budget and be on the lookout for the decorations and food item you will need. You could also consider hand crafting a lot of your decorations or borrowing them from others.
7. DON’T Buy Every Present
Some of the best gifts are the simple, handmade ones. Home-baked foods like pumpkin cookies and banana bread are warm and sweet, while homemade ornaments are are special and unique. Anything homemade usually makes a person feel more loved and appreciated as these gifts often come from the heart. These kinds of gifts are not just more personable, they will of course, also cost much, much less then the store bought gifts.
8. DON’T Purchase Items Individually
Items such as candles, cocoa packets and mugs are far less expensive when purchased by the case than by themselves, individually. Buy as many items in bulk and then separate the items into individual gifts. This is much cheaper and less time-consuming than picking out and buying them one by one.
9. DON’T Shop the Post-Holiday Sales
Because you never know if someone will change their mind on what they want next December, it’s best to avoid the post-holiday sales. Of course, holiday cards are safe but you do have to keep track of it for a whole year until you’re ready to mail it off. That’s another downfall of purchasing post-holiday sale items; you have to keep them safe and hidden all year long. Unless you you know for certain that your gift will undoubtedly be appreciated a year from now and that you can guarantee it’s secrecy for a full year, it will definitely want to resist these sales.
10. DON’T Wait Until December Again
Unless you want the holidays to sneak up on you again next year, start saving up for gifts and holiday spending in January. If save $50-$100 each month you could have $500-$1,000 spending money come November. Another thing you can do starting January is creating a gift list that you keep track of throughout the year. This way you can either shop throughout the year or at the very least know precisely what you want to purchase when the holiday sales begin again.
Contrary to popular belief, the holidays are an all-year thing. At least, if you want to be sure you can enjoy the season to it’s fullest, you have to plan in advance. Take these tips and start planning your holidays today. Then take your list and budget with you each time you go shopping and focus on the things you need. Say no to the items not on your list and do your homework to find the best deals and discounts. Then let the holidays trickle in as jollily as they were always meant to be.