The Holidays can either be a happy time or a stressful time. The good news is, you no longer have to find yourself spending way too much during the holidays or settling for gift cards this year. My step by step guide will help you learn how to budget yourself when shopping for your loved ones.
Step # 1 Set a Budget
Besides you're employer, you and only you know how much you make a month so set a reasonable budget of how much (total) you would like to spend this year.
Step #2 Make a list (& Check it Twice)
How will you know what you need to buy, if you don't know who you're buying gifts for?
If you're anything like me, and you love to give gifts, most likely you'll want to add as many people as possible to your shopping list, but if you're not making a high enough income you might want to scale down who is more important to you. Here is a small example list since everyone's family is different
Christmas List 2011
4. Best Friend
9. Coworkers (3)
Step #3 Divide Your Budget/Make a Game Plan
Obviously you're going to spend more money on some than others so make sure you divide everyone how you want to. Also always leave a cushion for supplies as well as tax and shipping. You know the bracelet you want to get mom is gonna cost $30, but tax and shipping will raise the total cost bit. Always add $10 more to what you want to spend for each person to avoid going over budget.
Now that you know what you're gonna spend it's now time to think of what you want to buy. Research the best place to get the items you want. Remember, you want to spend as less as possible. Just because you set a budget, doesn't mean you have to spend it all. If you run into a sale you can find yourself saving half of what you set out to spend leaving you with more money for yourself.
1. Mom -$100 (bracelet, book)
2. Dad -$100 ( Tool set, Dvd)
3. Best Friend -$35 (purse)
4. Boyfriend-$50 (sneakers)
5. Sister -$45 (Boots)
6. Brother -$45(video Game) -
7. Grandma -$50 (Pajama Set/ Bath Set)
8. Boss $25 (Gift Basket)
9. Coworkers (3)-$25 (Pastries)
*Supplies*-$25 (wrapping paper, boxes, etc)
( If purchasing gifts for friends, discuss a spending cap to avoid an awkward exchange)
Step#4 Divide Your Savings (Shop in Part)
While some think they need to shop their entire list in one lump sum, you can get a head start by dividing everyone each pay check. This only works if you make your list early. This will also prevent you from tapping into your Christmas money for personal expenses. Another tip would be to make a note of things you need to order. Purchases online should be done first so there is a guarantee they will be shipped on time. When purchasing items at department stores, try to use cash instead of your debit card this way you know you wont go over budget when you can physically see your budget reducing.
Last Minute Savings Tips
"I don't have enough in my budget and the holidays are two weeks away!"
The best part of the holidays is no matter how much you would like to have something to unwrap, no one is going to walk up to you expecting a gift. Times are tough, and we do the best we can, especially if you are a college student with a small income.
Step #1 Cut your list in half
Step #2 Make Budget (That won't have you eating Ramon for two weeks)
Step #3 Think Big Shop Small
Gift bags go a long way, and can be filled with small items that can cost as low as $10 to make. Places such as Bath and Body Works, Marshalls, and Walmart all sell affordable items that will fit into your budget
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