Friday, November 7, 2008

Planning Your Holiday Gift Giving

Have you ever heard that saying...
"Second Verse, Same as the First,
A Little Bit Longer and a Whole Lot Worse"
I had a friend who always used to say that after Christmas when the bills started arriving. She said that, referring to the fact that every year she was in debt after Christmas, and this year it was worse than last year. It was sad, but year after year, it took months for her to pay the Christmas bills that were charged. It literally caused her to get sick some years.
Maybe you aren't quite like that, but in your heart of hearts you know if you overspend. Guess what, you are not alone. Why do we do it?
The reasons are as varied as there are people on the planet, We may want to please someone, impress someone, feel like the more we give, the more they will love us, or maybe it is a way (shallow but a none-the-less a way) to show you love them. It can be fun to see their faces, but only for a split second of their lives, and for this you face months of paying bills?
Okay, you say, so how can we avoid it this year?
1. Write down who you feel you must buy gifts for, parents, siblings, children, etc.
2. Write down who you may want to acknowledge (mailman, newspaper man, hair dresser, babysitter, neighbors, etc.)
3. Write down the budget you are comfortable with. That is your bottom line, you do not feel comfortable spending more than this amount. Be reasonable, this is the budget you must stick to.
4. If you have children or elderly on your gift list, write down the amount you want to spend on them.
5. Write down your spouse/significant other and the amount you are willing and able to spend on him/her.
6. Prioritize the rest of your list.
7. Add it up. If you have more money in your budget, you can go down the line to spend on others. If you do not, that is as far as you go this year with purchased gifts. You can still give the others a gift, it may be something you make. I will cover that in another blog entry.
8. The goal is to pay cash. If this is not realistic for this year, do what you can by starting now and buying couple of things a week, to lessen the "blow" in your January credit card statement. Take your list and adhere to it. Only buy what is on your list. Once that gift if purchased, remember you have finished buying gifts for that person. You cannot say at a later date, "Oh this is cute for (name), guess I'll buy it too." Nope, no can do.
Remember, you cannot buy everything out there for any one person. I swear there are as many gifts as there are stars in the sky. There will be a lot of retailers out there for our cash this year, trying their best to convince us our loved one cannot possibly live without their product. We must be wise consumers not to give in to their marketing. Personal responsibility in gift giving begins today!
You can succeed at this! Let me know how it goes.

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