As the gift giving season draws near, here are some suggestions to avoid a spending hangover in early 2018. Start by establishing a gifting budget and talk with family members and close friends about your gifting plans this year. In some cases, it may make sense to suggest cutting back on giving presents or even entirely forgoing the gift exchange this year. Many families establish a spending cap on gifts by setting and sticking to a maximum amount per gift or by giving presents only to children under a certain age. In addition to a strict spending limit, some families also stop giving gifts to nieces, nephews and cousins once they turn 18. Those family members then join the “secret” gift plan in which family members draw names ahead of time and buy just one gift for that person.
If your budget doesn’t allow the same level of gifts for close family members this year, consider giving of your time and talent. Design a gift certificate to walk their dog, to volunteer at their favorite charity, to babysit, or to run errands for them. Alternatively, you could give a gift representing your talent such as building a bookcase or another piece of furniture they need, repairing something for them in their home or garage, planting some plants with them if they have a green thumb, or designing a thoughtful photo album of specific family memories such as a recent trip.
By using coupons and online shopping offers, you may be able to reduce the expenses of items family members “must” have. Try to find merchandise from internet sites which provide free shipping (and wrapping, if you are lucky) and order early enough so you aren’t stuck with last minute charges. Remember to look for Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads to plan ahead for potential deals on items on your shopping list.
If you head to the malls, do it early in the day when you are well-rested and fed. Shopping while tired or hungry, or with a small child experiencing the same discomforts, isn’t much fun and can result in overspending and losing your holiday spirit.
If it’s difficult for you to control spending on your credit card, one budgeting trick is to use a separate prepaid card to control discretionary spending. Deposit your allocated gift-spending amount at the beginning of the holiday season, and once you run out of funds, you run out. (This can also be done by using cash in a separate envelope). Although this takes careful monitoring, it’s a solid way to keep holiday spending within your budget. In summary, by shopping within your budget limits and spending smartly you can avoid the holiday spending hangover!
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