Christmas shopping can drive me to ‘lose my religion.’ For some reason us parents believe that our kids will grow up to be serial killers if we don’t get the special toy or those new shoes for Christmas. So, we mortgage the house so our newborn child can get that IPod touch because they must have it. I say ‘enough!’ Enough paying off Christmas in July. Enough with the false belief that our kids will be mal-adjusted without the right gifts. Below are some easy steps to protect our finances while shopping for Christmas.
First, create a budget for the overall holiday spending. Once you have an overall budget, break it down by person. Make sure the budget is reasonable and your not taking out a home equity line to fund the season. Then, stick to the budget. Don’t overspend, not even by a penny. Some people start Christmas accounts early in the year by having a fixed amount deposited every pay period. Then when Christmas rolls around (it’s the same time every year) it’s not a surprise and the funds are available.
Second, use cash for all purchases. Using cash will ensure you stick to the budget, but also ensure that you’re not paying for Christmas in July. If you do have to do online purchases, be vigilant to keep the budget with those purchases. It can be easy to loose control when spending online.
Third, have a prioritized shopping list. A list will help prevent impulse purchases. Prioritizing that list will help you make better decisions about the gifts to purchase. Knowing that my daughter really wants a Cabbage Patch doll helps me determine if that might be the only gift she gets (based on cost). Just because something is on a list does not mean you must purchase it. The list is just to help guide your purchases, you must still operate within the budget.
Fourth, comparison shop for the gifts. Check ads, find sales, check online and find the best prices. Don’t get the gift at the first store just because it’s the easiest thing. That last statement was for all the husbands and fathers! If you’re really good you’ll start shopping early. When you see items on sale you pick them up and store them till Christmas.
Finally, don’t buy anything for yourself! If you are like me, you end up buying yourself stuff at Christmas while shopping for others. Don’t! Don’t add additional strain to the budget and the season by making unnecessary purchases. I don’t care how good the sale is!
Hopefully these easy steps will protect your finances and allow you to truly celebrate the season of our Saviour’s birth.
Jeremy is a husband, father and son of the Most High King. Jeremy serves as the Co-Director of Small Groups in his local church as well as working in the professional sector. Jeremy loves shoes and good BBQ.