7 Money Tips to Cut Stress & Stay Sane During Holiday Shopping!

Big surprise - not everyone loves the holidays. The holidays are busy, stressful, expensive and emotionally tense, depending on family dynamics. I enjoy them once I get over my annual resistance, which starts in August when Christmas decorations appear, and releases when I finally give in, usually sometime around Thanksgiving.

If you’d like to the best chance of staying relatively sane during the holidays and NOT going over BUDGET here are 7 Tips to help you do so.

1) The Budget: First figure out how much IN TOTAL you want to spend on the Holidays. Include gifts, food, wrapping paper, party clothing (now we’re talking), hair & beauty products and of course alcohol. The average shopper spent $704 in 2010 and is projected to spend $14.00 less this year – who figures out this stuff?)*

2) Make a list of giftees - what you’re going to buy and the AMOUNT you are going to spend. Take the list with you when you shop – STICK to the list. (I’ve done this for years, primarily because if I didn’t make a list I wouldn’t remember who, what or how much.) Resist impulse buying - refer to the LIST!

3) SAVE the list. In fact, type it into your phone or Ipad, or if you’re technically challenged like me, at least do a word doc and save. Print & take with you. (Make sure you look at it when you’re shopping. – Resist impulse buying. - Hear the theme?)

4) How will you pay? Hopefully, you started saving Jan 1 of 2011 and now have at least $704.00 in your account. If not, how much have you saved – again – what’s your budget? How will you pay for purchases? Credit Card, debit card, cash? What’s the absolute limit you will put on said Credit card?  How will you support yourself to stick to this limit?

5) Shop early. Perhaps not in August, but sometime before Christmas Eve Day. Although I have to say I love to go to the mall that day, and look at all the male shoppers scurrying around. I feel smug because except for the cinnamon rolls I’ll pick up at Cinnabons, I’m usually done. (Wrapping? That’s another matter)

6) If your budget is small this year, don’t feel alone. Consider homemade gifts or a gift of time card. Family members can offer coupons for Special Nights of Sitting, yard mowing, prepared Meals. If you’re artistic (not me) you can create something unique – it’s the thought – remember. Be original.

7) If you can manage to do and stick to numbers 1-6 your stress should stay quite sane this holiday season. The odds are you won’t do this. If that’s true though don’t despair – just do what you do every year, and you’ll make it, as always.  For next year - do start saving Jan 1 – $58.67 a month = $13.55 a week = $704. Just start!!