5 Steps To Hacking Holiday Gifts on a Budget
Kristen Euretig is a CFP® and founder of Brooklyn Plans. She specializes in helping today’s women take control of their finances.
It’s the holiday season and we can all get carried away on gifts. Often, we put ourselves behind our finances, meaning that we buy whatever we think would bring people the most happiness, and then we deal with the repercussions to our finances later. This may mean starting the new year off in debt, having close calls on overdrafts from our bank account, or spending down savings we hadn’t planned to. Follow these 5 steps to get great gifts without breaking your budget.
1. Know your number. Instead of dealing with the repercussions of holiday gift giving, let’s reverse the usual approach to gifts. Start with this: How much can you comfortably spend on gifts? Give yourself some parameters. It may be a portion of a bonus you expect to get this month or the amount you usually spend on eating out in a month. Give yourself a target number that feels doable without putting your finances in jeopardy.
2. Make a list. Write down all the people you want to buy gifts for, starting with the most important people first – your significant other or your parents, for example. Put the people you’d like to buy gifts for but who are not as close to you like work acquaintances at the bottom.
3. Do your research. Getting a great gift doesn’t mean that it has to cost a fortune. Use sites like Etsy to get great handmade customizable gifts from small artisans and artists. kinjaDeals curates some of the best online deals and is a great place to comparison shop, especially on electronics. Their daily deals lists are especially helpful. Price compare what you’re thinking of getting and don’t buy anything until you take the next step, step 4.
4. Do the math. Next to each name on your list, write out what you would like to buy and the approximate price of each item. If you’re over budget, then you have a few options: select items with lower price tags or you can include less people on your list.
5. Before you buy, use these tools to make sure you’re getting the most out of your purchase. When shopping online, check RetailMeNot and CouponCabin for online promo codes for free shipping and discounts before clicking that buy button. When hitting the stores, don’t leave home without this App: Shop Savvy. It allows you to scan barcodes to compare costs at retailers to be sure you’re getting the best available price.
Don’t wait until after the holiday season to assess your financial position. Now is the time to make a plan so that you start the new year off on the right foot. There is no better gift that you can give to those you love than your own financial wellness and happiness going into the New Year. That is a gift that truly keeps on giving, and one the people who love you most would want you to have more than anything material you could buy for them.