As I write this post my wife has finished over half of our Christmas shopping. We are very strategic about how we go about our Christmas shopping each year. With four kids of our own and 12 nieces and nephews to buy for as well as Grandparents and Great Grandparents we could end up spending a tidy sum on gifts but we don’t.
For years I have seen people drop insane amounts of money they don’t have on Black Friday. Now granted there are some great deals to be found but in the adrenaline we usually end up buying much more than we should. In the 14 years of marriage I have only ventured out once to purchase a gift for our son. It was for a basketball hoop that cost only $99 which usually went for $250. I searched wal-mart for the place to find the gift (not in the sporting goods section but in the make-up section someone was holding a card with the deal), waited in line for 90 minutes, and then drove around back as they loaded it in my truck. I’d do it again if we found a great deal we were looking for.
There in lies the key. Before you start your shopping this season make sure you have a game plan, and I am not talking about looking through the ads. Here are some tips:
- Have a Budget: This fails more people than I know. Know how much you can and want to spend. Don’t experience buyers remorse in January when those Credit Card bills come in. Set aside the cash if possible and spend it wisely. Determine how much you want to spend on each person you are buying for and look for gifts in that price range. Who cares what they want, buy what you can afford. Your kids will get over not getting the popular gift, I did.
- Say No First. If you don’t love the gift say No! If you can’t afford the gift say No! In fact let your first response always be No! I know this sounds harsh but it is a great filter to overspending. No child in America needs anything that is advertised. Get a gift that will keep its value over time. I know this takes time but gone are the days when buy to impress. Instead buy to enhance the persons life.
- Cyber-Monday over Black Friday. My wife is a huge internet buyer. One year she had every gift bought by 11:30 am on Thanksgiving morning! Trust me there are a lot better deals on Cyber Monday than Black Friday. Plus you don’t waste time, spend money on food or gas, and waste your four day weekend. Instead use Friday for working off all that pie from the day before, install your Christmas lights, hang out with family who are in town, or catch up on some projects around the house. Usually with Cyber Monday they will deliver the gifts to your door for free too!
- Be Strategic. If you must go out on Black Friday be smart about it. Use a logical plan of how you are going to grab the best deals. Divide and conquer and try to set a time limit. The reason I say this is that this day will set the tone for your holidays. I don’t know how many people exhaust themselves on the first day and never recover until after New Years. It’s a poor way to start the season and finish the year. Many stores are opening on Thanksgiving now and while that sounds enticing it does two things: First, it takes time away from more important things like family and rest and Second, it increases the likelihood that we will overspend. Is a deal at 2am really that important?
These are just a few tips but if heeded will add so much to your peace of mind and your bottom line.