Monday, November 8, 2010

Plan Your Christmas Gift Budget

Christmas is around the corner!

My mailbox has been full of the latest Christmas sales and I am already hearing a lot about Black Friday. Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us all have their Christmas catalogs in circulation and it led me to wonder. Have you put much thought into what you are going to be spending over the holidays?

It's very important to sit down early and start planning out your Christmas Gift Budget. This should not take very long and could end up saving you money if you plan well.

1. First, find a quiet place to plan, away from the kids and other distractions.

2. With a notepad and pencil, write down everyone that you plan to buy gifts for over Christmas. Consider family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, teachers, holiday party gift exchanges, and other special gifts that you may buy each year. Remember to include packaging costs. Will you need wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, boxes? Try to reuse gift bags and accessories from last year if you have some left. Packaging costs can be expensive, so be sure to plan for this. The dollar store has great prices on gift packaging.

3. Set your overall gift budget. Do you plan to spend $100 this year on Christmas gifts? $500? $1000+? Be sure to take a look at your finances before hand to see what you can afford. Are you having to put everything on credit? Take a step back and try to find more frugal ways of gift giving so that you do not end up in debt this holiday season because of gift giving. Do you make gifts or have a gift closet that you can pull from that could cut costs?

3. Assign a limit to what you will spend on each gift, and stick to it. Consider taxes, especially if its a high dollar gift. For example, if you only want to spend $25 on a child, try to find something that is $20-$23 so that after taxes, you aren't going over your budget.

4. Decide what you plan to get each member on your list. Toys, Jewelry, Clothing, Gift Sets, Gift Cards? Make sure it is something that will work with your budget.

5. Decide where you will be buying each gift. Do you have to make a trip to the mall for the gift? Is this something that you will be purchasing online? Be sure to keep in mind shipping costs and taxes if you will be buying online and make sure that this too, will work with your budget. After your list is complete, combine shopping trips and take care of getting each gift at each specific store. You don't want to have to spend extra on gas from traveling back and forth to the same store, when you could have gotten everything all at once!

6. Consider how you will be paying for each item. Which gifts will you be paying cash for? Which gifts will go on credit? Which gifts do you already have at home from sales/stocking up? Do you have a rewards program that will take care of a few gifts? If you use Swagbucks, now is the time to cash in your earnings! I have am planning on using my earnings to pay for several Christmas presents this year.

7. Gather any coupons you have that match your gift ideas. For example, do you plan to get a few gifts at JCPenney or Bed, Bath, & Beyond? If you receive their coupons in the mail, this is the time to use these if they are not expired. You also still have time to wait to see if any of these items go on sale.

8. Decide the deadline for purchasing these gifts. When do you need to have them purchased and wrapped by? Is there a party at the beginning of December? Can you wait until closer to Christmas?

9. Add up your spending column for each gift and make sure that you have not gone over your budget. Go through and make any changes if you have gone over your budget.

10. Plan your shopping trips, take your list with you, and enjoy saving money and staying within your budget this holiday season!

Do you have a Christmas gift budget already in place? Do you plan to create one? Let us know your throughts on a Christmas budget below. Be sure to add any tips that work for you.


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