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5 Tips to Create an Amazing Holiday Shopping Plan

holiday-shoppingWhether we like it or not, the holiday shopping season has arrived. Stores are breaking out the merchandise, commercials are airing around the clock and the countdown toward Christmas has begun.

With all the temptation in the air, holiday shopping can be stressful, especially for your budget. The good news is that you can still give from the heart, without breaking the bank.

All it takes is a little planning.

Here are five tips that will help you to create a holiday shopping plan that is fun and also fits your budget.

1.  Make a List, Check It Twice

Before you go to the store, sit down and make a list of all the gifts you want to get for your family and friends. Write it all out, list everything you want to buy, then determine the cost of each item and price accordingly.

Next, determine how much you want to spend on each person. Create a budget and determine what you can realistically spend while maintaining your budget.

Now go back to your first list. Start to prioritize each gift list, by sorting them into three piles labeled, “Must Buy,” “Would Like to Buy,” and “Don’t Need to Buy.”

As you start to sort your list, you’ll start to see patterns emerge as to which gifts are truly important and which are more frivolous. Sort each pile by order of importance and remove or demote the items at the bottom of each list.

The gifts in the “Must Buy” column will probably take priority, however, if you see that a single item eats up a large portion of your holiday budget, it may be a sign that you should reprioritize. Hopefully, you’ll be able to give a selection of gifts that cover all three columns while staying in your budget.

Remember, if you spend more on one person it means you need to spend less on another, so budget carefully.

2.  Research

Once you’ve created your list, start doing your homework. Compare prices online and see if there are any specials available. Create a plan of attack. If you plan to do all your shopping at one store, but find a lower price at another, bring the ad with you. Many stores will match a competitor’s price at the register. Also, when shopping online retailers, look and see if there are advantages to ordering items all at once such as free or discounted shipping.

If you’re looking for help, there are lots of great apps available like Amazon Price Match, ShopAdvisor, and BuyVia. These apps allow you to scan barcodes in the store and also track price fluctuations on pre-selected items to find the best deals.

Remember, any savings that you take advantage of equals means money that you can reinvest toward your shopping list, as long as you stay within your budget. It also could be money that you can save or use to pay off existing debts.

3.  Don’t Forget the Batteries

Remember that the cost of a gift is more than the gift itself. It’s also the cost of batteries and other accessories as well as the cost of shipping and wrapping. Remember to factor all of these into your budget plan.

4.  It Is the Thought that Counts

As trite as it can sound sometimes, there is value in giving gifts that are personal or handmade. Homemade cookies or other baked goods are always a great gift, and regardless of the price, a gift with a personal touch will be remembered more than anything you can buy at the store.

Hate to bake? The one thing no one has enough of is time. Offer gift certificates for personal services like babysitting, organizing or help with yard work and your friends and family will love you forever.

5.  Build Your Budget First

Before you start shopping, make sure that your holiday shopping plans fit into your overall holiday budget. Don’t have one yet? That’s why we created the Ultimate Holiday Budget Spreadsheet. This incredible resource allows you to set a holiday budget that fits your income, and lets you plan for all of your holiday expenses before the start of the season. It also provides you with an easy to use holiday shopping planner that allows you to track the cost of every gift before you visit the store.

Want to create a budget for after the holidays?

Schedule a free counseling session today or call us at 800-920-2262.

Holiday budget spreadsheet

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