According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the leading cause of stress during the holiday season derives from money problems. To combat stress, smart shoppers incorporate the gift-giving season into their budget each month and buy presents throughout the year. However, if you are like most consumers, you have not planned ahead and may find yourself struggling for cash come January. Don’t despair though – proper budgeting and smart shopping techniques will help you stay within budget while finding something special for everyone on your list.
Holiday Budgeting Techniques
- Check your shopping list and make sure that everyone you are buying for needs a gift. If your budget is tight, buy only for close family and friends.
- Write down a maximum dollar amount that you want to spend for your entire list and then track how much you are actually spending.
- Buy items in bulk so you always have something little on hand for unexpected gifts. Consider a case of wine, candles or chocolates.
- Be realistic about your purchases and ask yourself the following: Can I really afford this gift? Do I have the cash in my bank account to pay for it? When shopping, leave your credit cards at home. Then, if you do not have the cash to pay for it, you can’t buy the gift.
- Consider staying home and shopping online. Not only do many retailers waive shipping fees during the holidays, you’ll save money on gas by not having to visit the mall, too.
- Take advantage of post-holiday sales on gifts for next year.
- Get a part-time job during the holidays, such as wrapping gifts at the local mall or being part of the Christmas display. This will increase your holiday budget and get you into the spirit.
- Consider opening a holiday savings account. You can make arrangements for automatic payroll deductions throughout the year to be financially fit when the shopping season hits.
Aside from money problems causing Americans stress during the holidays, the APA found that 61 percent of consumers cite lack of money, pressures of gift giving and credit card debt as major stressors.
Instead of worrying about these money-related problems, get your finances in order and spend time worrying about what color to frost your holiday cookies instead!