Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Shopping: Five Tips On How To Avoid Overspending

Halloween and Thanksgiving are behind us, and Hanukah is on the way - we are speeding through the holiday season at the speed of light (at least it feels that way). Next stop, Christmas - 25 days left to decorate, shop, write cards, gift wrap gifts, cook, bake, and celebrate.  Oh, these are all my favorite things to do! Love December!

But have you started your holiday shopping yet? I know I have. I couldn't pass up great black Friday deals and shopped... mainly for myself... Aghhh! Now I feel guilty for spending the money Aghhh...

...A year ago, one of my New Year's resolution was to spend money wisely. I did not think of how I was going to do it because I did not really think I would keep the resolution. Who does anyway?! But then, my friend's mom gave me a little statute of Snake, the Chinese New Year symbol, and told me to put a dollar (or five) under the snake, keep it there for the entire year, and it will bring me luck. Hmm, seemed easy, so I put a ten dollar bill under the snake.
Well, while I did not win the lottery, I am happy to report that I have been wiser with my money this year. But now, as holiday shopping season is here, I am facing an ultimate test... and I already show signs of failing it. Aghhh...

Okay, I am not a little kid, and I know that things are nothing more than... things, and that there is really not much more value to them beyond that, so I should be able to get back on the track of wise financial decision-making.

While I chose not to return what I already got for myself over this weekend (after all, the country's economy needed my contribution!), I decided to set a few rules and tips on how to spend wisely from this point on:

#1 Make a list of everyone who I would like to buy gifts for... then cut the list by at least 25%;

#2 Set up a dollar limit per person on my list (and stick to it!). And don't forget to consider costs beyond the gifts - Christmas tree, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel, charitable donations.

#3 Surf the internet for gift ideas and deals stores offer. (But please please please do not buy things just because they are on sale! Finding a spectacular sale can throw you off track. Pair a gift with a recipient based on what their interests and likes are while being within your budget.)

#4 Decide whether you tend to overspend when you shop on line or in stores, and chose the opposite. Ok, this one I have trouble with - I love browsing through things in stores, touching them, trying them... But then, the temptation of making impulse buys is much higher as opposed to browsing through photos on an impersonal computer screen.

Fine, I am a big girl, and should be able to handle it! Whether I like it or not, life is not all about cupcakes and flowers, and this year I will do most of my shopping on-line.

#5 Do not forget to breath, take walks and relax with family and friends. Enjoy the holiday spirit!
Shopping can be stressful during this time of the year (yes, I said it!) - traffic jams, crowded stores, long lines, and fights for sizes and left over sale items - so be aware, remind yourself the true meaning of Christmas, and don't rob yourself from enjoying the holiday spirit!

Great! I like this list - I think it is reasonable and doable.

xo, Zuma A,

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