How NOT to overspend on Xmas
Christmas, the wonderful time of the year: the time for giving and sharing of gifts with relatives and friends. As much as we want to celebrate and be very merry during this festive season, we want to make sure that we do not put pressure on our wallets. Retailers are really good at forcing us to pay attention to latest promotions and coming up with the amazing gift ideas to tease shoppers to spend more money than we really want to. Once at the shopping mall, we are constantly bombarded with opportunities to spend & spend… Without realising it, multiple small purchases accumulate into big amounts which will give us a big shock when the credit card bill arrives later on.
This year, we need to step up our game and prepare for Christmas shopping by creating a shopping list and budget before we hit the stores.
Here are some tips to prevent overspending this Christmas:
- Have a list – List the people who you are going to buy a Christmas gift for. This is a good place to start as the exercise will help you see the ‘magnitude’ of the shopping you need to do. Here are some of the people who you will probably include in this list:
- Close friends
- Gift exchanges for Christmas parties
- Think of a gift – For each person in the list, think of a suitable gift that you will like to buy for him/her. If you are not very sure at this point, have a few potential items listed so that you at least have something in mind when you are in the mall.
- Start a budget – For each gift, estimate how much you would spend on that gift. Total the prices for all the gifts you have listed and that’ll be your budget. If you have a few possible items listed for one person, use the price of the most expensive item to calculating the budget. You want to make sure you are prepared for the worst case scenario. Take a look at the total. Is this budget affordable? If not, you may have to review step 2 and 3 until you have a final budget that you are comfortable with.
- Do online research – A good way to check if your budget is realistic is to do some online research before you actually head down to the mall. Not only is this a good way to gather gift ideas and market rates, it also saves you time and energy you would waste going to the crowded mall simply for research purpose. Here are some great sites to start you off:
- Do your shopping – Here’s where the real action starts. Get down to the shopping mall or go to online stores to do your shopping. Retailers like to run promotions during the Christmas season to encourage us to spend more. At the malls, be prepared to be tempted by irresistible offers and promotions. Having the shopping list and budget in hand will certainly help you stay focused. You are less likely to get distracted into opportunistic shopping which will leave you skint.
- Review actual spending against budget – For each actual purchase that you make, update your budget with the actual money spent. If you have burst your budget on some items, then you’ll have to lower the spending on other items to make up for the differences. Likewise, if you make some savings on certain items, then you’ll have more slack to play with on other items. Keep doing this for the entire shopping list and you will be able to constantly track your actual spending against your budget. This is vitally important to help you keep within your shopping budget.
It does take some time and effort to plan your Christmas shopping. However, the effort will allow you to shop with focus and saves you time and money later on. There will not be any nasty surprises when the January bill comes in as you know exactly how much you have spent. I hope our guests and other readers will find this blog post useful.