It’s easy to blame your excessive vacation spending on sheer generosity. Come January, however, you might be kicking yourself for not saving that extra dough.
Holiday Spending: Get the best holiday shopping and saving tips
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It sounds obvious, but having a clear, strategic budget on paper for your holiday shopping can really hold you accountable for what you intend to spend — and not go over — this season. Here are some tips to stop overspending this holiday season.
Make a plan
It’s quite dangerous to enter a store without a list. But when the holiday season rolls around, temptations lurk in every aisle, window and checkout counter.
Keep a list of people you want to buy a gift for and keep track of potential gifts they’ve mentioned, or things you’ve seen that would make good gifts for them. Ideally, you should update this list throughout the year, but making a list as soon as possible will help you reduce any over-purchasing.
Once you have your list, have a number of what you’d like to spend in total on all your gifts this season, then assign an individual dollar amount to each person – you might budget a larger amount for your parents or a significant person other than you. would be for your favorite boss or barista.
Then your list is your word. Match each person with a gift within their budget and try to avoid any extra gifts.
There’s no better time than the holiday season to start enjoying those rewards you never use with your credit card. While there are already benefits built into your credit card, many personal credit cards also offer periodic cash back rewards for purchases from certain retailers or brands. You can schedule your donations at select stores with rewards available.
Most of the time, you will have to opt for these rewards. Log in to your banking app and look for rewards or special offers available to you for the next month.
Group gift exchange
Do you feel guilty about giving when choosing which friends to buy this holiday season? Try coordinating a gift exchange like Secret Santa or White Elephant with those closest to you.
It’s a good idea to set a preferred budget for gifts so that everyone feels comfortable with how much they spend and receive. You can even organize an event for the final exchange. The excuse to get together during the holiday season can be another gift in itself.
One place you can get by without a super strict budget is the thrift store. Savings is an economical and more environmentally friendly way to buy totally unique gifts. When I’m looking for a smaller gift that’s a safe bet, I’ll get a novelty mug from a thrift store’s extensive collection and put a Starbucks gift card inside.
And with the low prices, you have a little more flexibility over what you can buy. You can walk into a thrift store not having a clear idea of what to buy and let the collection inspire you – you may stumble upon something so specific to your loved one’s interests that you couldn’t. find nowhere else. This way, savings gifts can always have a personal touch.
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Ask your artist friends
If you have artists in your group, consider giving commissioned artwork as gifts this holiday season. You can order a sketch of your favorite TV character for your gift, a string art portrait of her pet, or color-matched jewelry.
Have a clear idea in mind when approaching your artist and discussing options, sizes and pricing. Then choose what suits you best. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for upfront, your giveaway will receive a one-of-a-kind creation, and you’ll be supporting a local artist or small business. Win-win-win!
Don’t over deliver
While it’s tempting to add that “last little thing” to your loved one’s Christmas stocking, these frivolous expenses can really add up. And as hard as it sounds, those just-for-fun stockings can end up in the trash before the New Year.
It’s the thought that counts when it comes to gifts, and giving someone a bunch of gifts definitely shows you were thinking about it. But all of those little additions could mean just as much as the one thoughtful gift you know they’ve been hoping for.
Try to remove the most superfluous gifts that you would throw in your basket. Your wallet (and your nimble wrapping fingers) will thank you!
Organize a party
As fun as throwing a party, throwing one can be stressful. A great way to celebrate a loved one this holiday season without making a singular big purchase is to offer to throw a party for them.
If you have the space, offer to host and plan their next birthday party next year. Help them pick a theme, find decorations from other friends, and manage RSVPs. You’ll also get rid of the worst part of party planning: cleanup!
A gift of service lets a loved one know that you want to be there for them, which can mean more to them than any store-bought gift.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How to Stop Overspending on Holidays
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