Surviving the Holiday Shopping Money Crunch
As we all get into the holiday spirit, sometimes we need a little reminder to control our shopping impulses! Below are some tips and resources to help you enjoy your holidays within your financial means.
Budget, budget, BUDGET
Budgeting is KEY to holiday shopping (and to developing financial literacy skills in general) and ensuring you don't go overboard. If you think that you're going to save money by simply purchasing items with a "sale" tag on them, think again. It's the beginning of the month -- if you haven't started holiday shopping, sit down and think about how much you can realistically spend on gifts, charitable donations, etc. without getting a hefty credit card bill in January.
Plan your Meals
The reality is, if you're one of those people that goes into auto-pilot when shopping and loses track of time at a mall or shopping centre, you can easily forget to refuel and end up splurging on fast food or at restaurants because, well, "you deserve it". This becomes another added expense that subtracts from your monthly budget (you do have a monthly budget, right?). Instead, take advantage of the holiday season to try some new dishes out. Heck, you can even bake some cookies and bring them to your favourite local library staff (hint, hint)! Here are some great, new books to inspire you.
For those that get stressed from the idea of being in a packed mall or store, online shopping is a great option. Many retailers offer the option of free shipping during the holidays (or if you spend a certain amount) so it's a wonderful way to shop from the comfort of home, while still wearing your pyjamas if you so desire! It also reduces the likelihood of another product or item tempting you to buy it while shopping around -- remember, "sale" does not equate to "buy me"!
Make Gifts Yourself
Sometimes the best gifts aren't necessarily the ones with an expensive price tag, but rather the one with the most thought put into it! Handmade gifts are oftentimes a wonderful gift idea and allow you to really personalize for the person receiving it. There are many websites, such as Pinterest, that have millions of ideas but here are some books with great projects that you can easily tackle during the holidays.
It's easy to go overboard with spending during this time of the year; we're conditioned to believe that we have to spend and buy! Just make sure to have a plan up front (budget) and stick with it to avoid experiencing the dreaded, buyer's remorse.
On a related note, if you're looking for a great gift idea, in which part of the proceeds will support Toronto Public Library, make sure to check out the "I'm Library People" t-shirts on sale now!
This is a time to be festive and happy, to spend with friends and family. Be financially smart, and have yourselves a wonderful holiday!