Paycheck Chronicles

Thinking About Holiday Spending


t’s Monday, and it’s the week of Thanksgiving.  I feel like I’m being bombarded with advertisements everywhere I look, and I suspect that the volume is going to up as the week progresses.  Heck, it will probably continue to go up all the way until Christmas itself.

I consider myself pretty sensible when it comes to spending, and my family doesn’t need much stuff.  But, geez, these advertisements are soooo enticing!  It’s true – there are some amazing prices, and some really cool stuff available.  So, how does a prospective shopper keep their brain and their wallet in line?

I have a couple of strategies that I like to use during this oh-so-tempting holiday season.

Making A List…

First, I find list-making essential.  I have an entire binder of lists:  budget lists, grocery lists, christmas card lists, gift ideas, gifts that have been purchased, guest lists for parties.  These lists save me money in a ton of ways, but the most important part of my binder is that it helps keep me from overbuying by helping me focus on the budget AND the desired end-state.

I have a pretty good handle on how much I plan to buy each person for Christmas.  It is important to me that we don’t go crazy with the holiday gifts, so focusing on the list is the main way that I stop myself from buying those “great deals.”  Working with my gift ideas and my budget, the “already purchased” gifts list is often a sobering reminder that I don’t need to buy any more stuff.

Checking It Twice

Another tactic for keeping holiday shopping in line is to compare the prices that are being advertised.  This isn’t always easy, but sometimes a little research will reveal that those stupendous prices aren’t quite as stupendous as they seem.  It’s also useful to remember that great prices can be found over the course of the year.

The other thing to check is the budget.  Our Christmas budget is based on paying for everything without using debt, so keeping an eye on the dollars is important to me.  I encourage you to consider avoiding debt for Christmas, too….

Consider The Calendar

The holiday season might only be four or five weeks, but it’s not uncommon for a family to spend a disproportionately large amount of their annual budget in the November and December time-frame.  Remembering that those expenses are going to keep coming is a good way to keep the early season shopping in check.  This is another place where those lists come in handy; I find it easier to resist the shopping when I remember that we still haven’t paid for our Nutcracker tickets.

Resisting the lure of the holiday shopping season can be challenging.  Any of my methods might help you, or maybe you have a plan of your own.  If so, please let us all know in the comments – a little extra help is always appreciated this time of year.

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