The Christmas tunes are playing in the elevators and malls. The stores are nicely decorated with boughs of holly and Santa is sitting in his nicely cushioned chair with children lined up to sit on his lap and tell him all of their Christmas wishes. Sounds nice and the holiday season is always a time that is full good will and cheer, right? Well, okay maybe for those who are young and still have no one other than their selves to worry about. The rest of us are running around like mad men and women desperately trying to figure out how we will ever cover everyone on our list and still manage to keep the electric on and our families fed. This year more than ever, finances are tight for all of us. Luckily that doesn’t mean Christmas has to be any less festive than usual.
What it does mean is that we may have put a little more effort into our gift ideas. Remember when you were little and you put your all into that picture that you drew for your parents on Christmas Eve? All of the gifts under the tree were great but when Mom got to that picture of yours she would tear up and give you a big hug while telling you that it was the most beautiful picture in the world and the best gift she had ever received! How awesome would it be if you could get that same reaction now as an adult? It’s not always the price tag on a gift that matters. What makes the gift important is how relevant it is to the person you are giving it to. We all know that old saying, it’s the thought that counts… it hasn’t stuck around for so long for no reason.
Secondly, take a little time to budget. Don’t overspend! Christmas is a time to spread love and joy. If your family knows that you are struggling with money they shouldn’t and probably don’t expect big and expensive gifts. Make a list of those whom you need to buy for and put a price limit next to each name. Stay within your limit for that person. It may be hard at first but sticking to your budget will make life a lot easier when the credit card bills start rolling in.
Don’t jump at the first bargain. Black Friday is nothing more than a big sales gimmick to get you to shop till you drop. Sure, there are some great deals at 5AM but what are the chances of you actually getting to the thing you want the most. If you can make it up and out there in time, great! However, get in and get out. The roaming around is where the stores get you. Just like you see the candy next to the registers, you can bet that they will have the higher priced and better quality items right next to the one you initially came in to get.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to do some comparison shopping online. There is a site called http://www.pricegrabber.com that is great for this! If you know exactly what you are looking for you can go to this site and type it in the search bar. Various retailers display their prices on different items which can save you a lot of time, gas and hassle when you are ready to buy. In addition to displaying the price some retailers will even offer you a five dollar bonus for giving your feedback on the product that you buy! Another great site is http://www.fatwallet.com. On this site you are guaranteed to earn 1-20% back on each purchase. It is somewhat like earning cash back when using a credit card only the site rewards you directly when you spend ten dollars or more.
Years ago Christmas really was about spending time with family and friends, remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus and actually celebrating the prosperities of the year. Although times have changed, it is still important to take time to enjoy yourself. If you really want to do it right, start saving for next year now! Happy Holidays!