This winter, the NPD Group’s 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey is reporting that Americans plan to spend an average of $740 on holiday shopping — a 7% increase since last year. The survey also found that more people started their shopping earlier than last year (even before Black Friday!).
So are you like your fellow Americans? What can you do to ensure your spending does not spiral out of control? Here are some ideas:
Set a limit. Decide what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Perhaps you can provide an incentive for yourself with the amount you save under your spending limit. Better yet? Reward yourself with the after-holidays sales!
Make a list. Perhaps Santa got it right when he “makes a list and checks it twice.” Your list can be your working tool to try to stay on budget. Try sorting your list by groups of people (family, extended family, colleagues, friends, etc.) or by dates you plan on giving gifts. There are plenty of phone apps that can make this easier.
Avoid the impulse. Yes, the sparkly lip balm packs and shaving sets intentionally placed near the checkout aisles seem like good ideas. But you don’t need those impulse buys! A side benefit of making a list is to tie your budget to the items on your list. This matching of budget and list will ensure your spending goal is attainable.
Compare, compare, compare. See something you like but you’re not convinced by the price tag? Go online and see where you can find it for less. Even if you don’t plan to buy the item online, you can shop different retail locations without making the drive. If you do make an online purchase, don’t forget to factor in shipping costs.
Consider something other than “things.” If you find yourself buying just to buy because you don’t know what to get — STOP. Consider other gift options that may be more meaningful. Many people would appreciate the gift of time. Perhaps it’s babysitting or doing yard work for a friend. Consider making a handmade craft or edible goodie. The gift of love is too often replaced by merchandise from a store.
Save to spend. While it may be too late for this year, consider setting next year’s budget based on this year’s experience. Then set up a special savings account for next year and start funding it. This can readily reduce your spending stress next year.
Cherish giving. One of the nicest gifts one can give is to reintroduce the giving nature of the season. Consider purchasing a gift for a charity and then have your child/grandchild deliver it. This idea can plant the seed for future generations that consumption should not be the central theme of the holidays. Plus your little one has the joy of making the holiday season that much more special!