OK. Black Friday has come and gone. Cyber Monday is over. Memo to those of you who have completed your Christmas shopping: “I think you are awesome and I tip my hat to you, but you need read no further. This post is not for you.”
For the rest of us procrastinators (yes, I am one), take a deep breath and chill. The following tips will help you to not only survive, but thrive as you shop:
1. Don’t panic.
Repeat after me, “I still have time.” Seeing December on your calendar is not your cue to rush out and buy up those bath crystals, cheese logs and fruit cakes.
2. Know your gift budget.
If you are going to avoid credit card shock on your January statement, you need to know how much you are going to spend before you get started.
3. Make a list and check it twice.
Know who you will be buying for and how much you will spend on each. Write every name on a lined pad. Now make a list of possible gifts within the price paramters. Write them down.
In making your list, you may discover that you simply don’t have enough money to buy gifts for everyone. Some people may get cards instead of gifts this year. Don’t worry about it. They will probably be relieved to know they can buy you a card next year.
5. Listen and remember.
People drop hints and if you can act on those hints, you will pleasantly surprise them. If you don’t have a clue what to buy, just ask. Most people would rather receive something they ask for even if it isn’t a surprise.
6. Keep track of online purchases.
The internet is your friend. Do some serious price comparisons so you can make sure you are within your budget. Many online stores offer free shipping, so go ahead and buy items which have a low probability of being returned. Just be sure to write on your list what you ordered and how much you spent. To debit card users: don’t forget to enter these purchases in your check register.
7. Use cash.
When not shopping online, put your budgeted cash in an envelope and spend out of the envelope. You can often stretch your dollars by buying “pre-owned” (this link will give you some great consignment shopping tips). Keep your list with you and check off purchases and amounts as you buy gifts. When the envelope is empty, you are done, so be aware that if you spend extra on Uncle George, you will have to spend less on Aunt Lucy. Leave your credit cards at home.
8. Enjoy the spirit of the season.
Smile at the harried check out clerk. Open the door for the woman with a full cart and three small children. Say “Merry Christmas” a lot. Give to the Salvation Army bell-ringer and thank her for volunteering. As you make the season better for others, you will enjoy it more yourself.