These daily financial tips are designed to be short ideas covering different aspects of family and business finances. They are short pieces intended to provide information to enable individuals, families and businesses to make informed financial decisions. Not all tips will apply to every situation, but over the course of a year, most financial topics will be covered. Check in regularly and share with friends and associates.
Recent studies indicate the average person will spend $900 – $1000 on their Christmas shopping this year. Recent studies also indicate Canadians have become some of the most indebted of any nation, owing $1.7 for every $1 earned. This is not a good number. During the holiday season (which now lasts months – Costco had Christmas decorations out in October) we are inundated with promotions and inducements from all media – print, TV online, etc. It can be hard to resist. Many feel a sense of obligation when it comes to gift buying and retailers know this.
Having a plan/strategy will help ensure you stick to a budget for your holiday shopping and avoiding the credit card blues in January. First things first, start with a list of people you need (need not want) to shop for. Establish a budget for your Christmas shopping and STICK TO IT. Remember the saying “It’s not the gift that counts, it’s the thought that counts”. Having a list and a budget are two of the keys to avoid overspending during the holidays.
If there are people who you think may feel obligated to get you something, but aren’t on your list, perhaps reach out to them first and tell them not to buy any gifts as you are narrowing your list (you don’t have to tell them you aren’t getting them anything). This will also relieve the pressure to reciprocate.
Once you know who you’re going to buy for and how much you want to spend, plan what you may want to get those on your list. Think of hobbies, interests, work needs, etc. If not sure, ask other family members, friends, or ask your list people for a list from them. With this in mind, think of where these people shop, then check out these stores for ideas (either in person or online).
If purchasing tangible items/gifts, make sure where you buy from has a good gift exchange plan in case what you buy isn’t the right size, or they wish to exchange. One of the worst challenges during the holiday shopping season is parking in malls, and the general pandemonium in malls and stores. Much of this can be avoided today by shopping online. Often shopping online, you can also get additional discounts or savings not available in stores. It also avoids the temptation of picking up additional, un-needed items which blow the budget. If you are having an item shipped (either to yourself or the recipient), make sure you’re aware of the online store shipping guarantees. You want to make sure the gift makes it under the tree.
If shopping in a mall or store (many of us enjoy the festive atmosphere, caroling, making it an experience), then have a plan, take your list and stick to the list.
Perhaps have themes for gifts. Ie games, interior decorations (are great for people who have moved or bought a home), cooking, etc. Another way of managing budget, is the gift of books. Books can help advance peoples interests, etc.
Instead of buying gifts, are there family momento’s or heirlooms than can be gifted. Momentos and heirlooms often have more sentimental value which far out-weight a store bought gift. Perhaps create a photo album or calender. Hand made gifts also have significant sentimental value and the effort in creating a gift is much valued by the recipient.
The use of gift cards has increased significantly over the last number of years. This provides flexibility and can also help manage your shopping budget. Just be very aware of what the restrictions and limitations are. Also check for any fees attached to the gift card, which will diminish the value over time.
Another option for those on your list who are hard to shop for or who have ‘everything’ is make a charitable donation as a holiday gift. Helping those in need is very much appreciated.
Make a list, check it twice – make a budget, check it twice and stick to it, will avoid the holiday credit card blues in January and start your next year off on the right financial foot.
Share these ideas with friends and family and come back to check out daily financial tips and ideas. If there are subjects you wish covered or questions, please email me and I’ll include them in future posts.