The Christmas shopping season has been upon us for a while now. We have yet to enjoy our turkey and pumpkin pie, and we are already being bombarded with advertisements telling us to get this and buy that. Holiday shopping can be stressful, there is no doubt about it. According to the Better Money Habits Millennial report from USA Today, about 41 percent of millennials are “chronically stressed” about money. And I would bet money that percentage is the same for other generations as well.
So, if it’s hard for people to make ends meet throughout the year, how are they supposed to afford Christmas gifts for their family and friends? Don’t fret, we’ve got answers. The following tips from money.usnews.com should help reduce your holiday shopping stress.
Get real about your money.
Ginger Dean, psychologist and website owner of GirlsJustWannaHaveFunds.com, suggests lowering expectations, setting financial boundaries and being upfront. She points out that you don’t need to play Santa Claus to make everyone happy. “If your situation doesn’t allow for several gifts, then it doesn’t,” she adds.
Sell gift cards to afford gifts.
Raise.com is like the Grand Central Station of buying and selling gift cards. No matter if you’re naughty or nice, users can offload cards they will never use by selling them as well as purchasing gift cards they do want at a discount. This can be a way to come up with some extra cash to buy some gifts if you’re strapped for cash.
Keep the recipients favorite stores on your radar and consider purchasing gift cards as the actual gift or purchase discounted ones from favorite stores on your recipient’s wish list. Raise.com offers over 3,000 brands like Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s and even Home Depot. If you know your significant other has been eyeing a cashmere sweater, a new tie or maybe just an overall wardrobe reboot, you can spend less on the gift you are looking to buy before you even begin to shop. If the item you want is on sale, you can get a deeper discount once you purchase it.
Avoid getting ripped off.
Scale back your worries about getting ripped off by checking out a tool like SiteJabber.com. It’s a browser add-on that helps you avoid online shopping fraud. Take a look at criteria-based reviews of online sellers that display their contact information. Also, read up on the quality of the seller’s goods, pricing, shipping methods and how they handle returns.
Shop little by little to avoid overwhelm and pace your spending.
Create your own installment plan by spending little by little with each paycheck. You can set aside money in a separate account to gradually save for a certain item, too. You can also ask to go in for half if another friend or family member happens to be shopping for the same person.
Also, consider shopping in spurts. You can pace yourself and spend a little at a time. It can take some of the pressure off of you to shop this way. You can also visually gauge what you have already purchased and plan your future paychecks accordingly.
Put a little thought into the purchase.
Stocking stuffers or small gifts with a card pair well and can cost less. You don’t have to go over the top to spread holiday cheer. A gift card in a smaller increment coupled with a thoughtful gift goes a long way. While gift card purchases are on the rise, it’s still nice to pair a small gift with the gift card. Find a special chocolate bar, a fancy pen or a coloring book for adults to go with the gift card. This way you could add a personal touch or plan a theme. It shows that you put a little more thought and planning into the purchase.
Don’t make extra trips.
Money can be a stressor at this time of year but making many shopping trips can also be stressful. Shop at stores you normally frequent so you don’t feel rundown taking extra trips. Cut back on something you would normally buy to make a little room in your budget for gifts. Maybe a fancy haircut can wait a month or perhaps you can cut back on an everyday item like an expensive shampoo temporarily. Get an inexpensive one instead to hold you over for the time being. No one will know the difference and you’ll suddenly find a little extra in your wallet to exchange for the holiday.
Purchase and exchange gifts after the holidays.
Sometimes we have so many people to see, it’s hard to squeeze everyone in. Plan to see certain people after the holiday. You’ll still have something to look forward to and you can take advantage of sales that happen after the holidays. You can potentially buy for everyone on your list for less.
Be a cyber stalker to identify what people want.
If the people on your list haven’t dropped any hints to point you in the right direction, consider taking a peek on Facebook. Go on a hint dropping scavenger hunt by looking for restaurants they’ve checked into, groups they’ve liked and read their status update for clues. Maybe those who like organization guru Peter Walsh’s page might reveal how they disdain clutter and would appreciate tickets to the movies, a play or a gift card to a restaurant. Fitness buffs might like a new gym bag, hand weights or workout gear. If they have a favorite television show on NBC, you can order at the NBC Universal Store and ABC stores online. The show Friends has made a comeback and resonates with a new generation of twenty-somethings. A mug or t-shirt might be the perfect gift.
Take the stress out of holiday shopping with the tips mentioned above. With a little strategic planning, creativity and an upfront conversation you can get gifts for people on your list or decide to hold back. Either way you can enjoy the season and stay within your means.
Questions? Feel free to contact us anytime.
Information contained in this article from money.usnews.com