Christmas is less than 20 days away. If you’re really on top of your game, you’ve already finished your Christmas shopping, or at least most of it. However, if you’re like most people, panic is probably starting to kick in as you realize that you only have about 2 weeks to buy presents for everyone. As you shop, tho, there are several mistakes that you should avoid, lest you finish up this Christmas season with a load regret and go into the New Year with fresh money problems.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #1: Shopping With No List
Shopping without a list is always a no-no, but especially when you’re Christmas shopping. You don’t necessarily need a list of precise items, but at least have a list of who you’re shopping for. And if you already have gifts at home for certain people, write that down on your list. Keep your list with you, and as you buy gifts for people on your list, cross them off. If you don’t keep a list, you’ll end up with triple presents for Brother Jo, no presents for Aunt Suzie, and not enough for Grandpa. Not only have you spent too much, but now you’ll need to make yet another shopping trip.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #2: Shopping Without a Budget
Have a budget, both for the total amount you want to spend, and the amounts you want to spend on each person. As you shop, keep a running total of how much you’ve spent. And since you already are keeping a list of presents bought (see #1), you can easily just add your per-person budget to that list.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #3: Not Knowing How Much You Can Afford
Shopping with a budget is all fine and good, but only if your Christmas budget is grounded in reality. Reference your regular budget to figure out how much you can spend while still having enough to cover things like bills and other necessities. Better yet, perhaps you’ve been saving up over the last year for Christmas shopping, in which case you have the money already set aside.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #4: Feeling Pressured to Buy Big
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us feel at least a little pressure to spend big on Christmas presents. Maybe you’re worried we won’t measure up against other people at our gatherings. Or you don’t want to offend people. This pressure is certainly also fueled by commercials and pop culture. But step back for a moment. Remember that Christmas is more than just the presents. Family that cares about you isn’t going to stop caring if you don’t go as big on presents. And the people who are comparing sizes will never really be satisfied. And remember, most people will remember who got them what for a week or two. Going into debt over Christmas presents can easily stick with you for months. Also remember this is a two-way street. Don’t be pressuring anyone else into going big.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #5: Getting Suckered by the Deals
This time of year the deals are plentiful. Retailers know you’re out spending money so they’re doing everything they can to grab your attention. Remember tho, that there’s no such thing as a deal that’s too good to pass up. And overspending on good deals is still overspending. Stick to that shopping list and budget. If a deal fills an entry on the list, great! Otherwise pass.
Christmas Shopping Mistake #6: Waiting till the Eleventh Hour
So you’ve waited this long to get your shopping done. Don’t wait any longer. Waiting til the last-minute will make your shopping rushed and pressured, likely causing you to make one of the mistakes above. And even if you do stick to budgets and lists and avoid getting suckered in to the deals, don’t let the stress ruin the Christmas joy. Once again, remember that Christmas is so much more than shopping.
Avoid these 6 mistakes, and Christmas can be (relatively) low stress, joy-filled family time. Get too wrapped up in Christmas shopping however, money problems will loom over your celebrations and you’ll likely start the new year with a debt burden and regrets.
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.