Making the commitment to spend less this Christmas is easy. Sticking to that commitment is the hard part. In fact, everyone has probably considered the idea on more than one occasion but fallen short of the goal. No matter how good your intentions, once the season gets in full swing a frenzied momentum can take over. Before you know it, you have spent well over your planned Spartan budget, are nowhere near finished and are forced to postpone your frugal goals for another year.
Let’s jump on this and save you from this fate with five tricks to help you stay on track.
1. Don’t go window shopping at the mall. Better yet, don’t go to the mall at all, if you can help it. Marketing execs are paid the big bucks to make you forget your ambitious plan. In fact, they spend money to learn which techniques will make you spend yours. Online shopping still pressures you into buying what you don’t want or need but it is much easier to say no from the comforts of your own living room.
2. Set a budget. This is sometimes easier said than done. Be strict with yourself. Take cash out of the bank and put that exact amount you want to spend on each person in a separate envelope. You can have a separate envelope for expenses such as stamps, wrapping paper, holiday cards, shipping costs – just don’t forget to budget for them.
3. Accept the fact that you are not perfect. Know that there are exceptions too every rule. If you see the ultimate, dream gift for someone (& can afford it), go ahead. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to do this for everyone, no matter how much you are tempted. You can explain that this gift is a birthday/Christmas/every-holiday-for-the-rest-of-your-life gift.
4. Don’t feel pressured to get involved with every gift giving arrangement at the office. Practice saying, “My family is really focused on not buying gifts this year”. Most people will understand. If all else fails, announce that you will be baking several dozen cookies or your grandmother’s famous fill-in-the-blank and bringing it to the office. Leave a note that reads, “Happy Holidays from the Smith Family” and make sure everyone can see it. Food always does the trick.
5. If you feel weak in the knees and don’t think you can stand up to the pressure, turn to gift cards. You can purchase them in specific dollar amounts that are within your budget and then tell everyone that you are done shopping.
Hopefully these tricks will help you avoid overspending this Christmas and finally reach your goal of spending less (much less) this holiday season.