With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind me, I struggle to write this blog post. I wish this outlandish buying frenzy would stop. Our society so driven to buy, buy, buy and Christmas was never meant to be about that…(Now I am off the soap box, I promise)
When trying to figure out who and what to buy, don’t forget about the how. How will you pay for it? Please don’t rely on credit lest I stand back up on my soap box again! The best thing to do here is to create a budget and track your spending. Here are 5 easy steps to do this:
Step 1: Decide how much money you have to spend in total. That is your gift budget.
Step 2: Break down the total into smaller budgets for each person. Let’s say your budget is $300 and you have 4 children and a spouse. Your breakdown may be $50 per child and $100 for your spouse in gift spending.
Step 3: Brainstorm a list of items as gift ideas. Write them down. Also write down the amount you intend to spend on each person.
Step 4: Take it when you shop – the brainstorm list and your budgeted amounts
Step 5: As you shop, write down what you purchased and the cost. When you reach the budget limit for a particular person, stop buying for them.
In the past I have carried a tiny notebook in my purse, using one page per person that I intended to buy for. On each page, I also wrote the budgeted dollar amount beside their name. Then I switched, for a few years, to an actual Christmas Planner. Just Google “Christmas Planner” and you can download forms/lists to make your own holiday planner.
In a blog post, I showed some ways you can make your own holiday planner, if you are crafty. But now, I just use my Evernote. I have talked about Evernote before when I shared how I turned my recipes into a digital format and how it can be used to help you organize your travel plans. This is my second year using Evernote for my Christmas shopping. It’s really convenient for me because not only is it on my tablet, but it’s also on my phone (which goes with me everywhere)! Essentially I created a notebook called Christmas 20xx, then made a page per person just like I used to do in the notebook I kept in my purse. Here’s a screen shot of one of the people I shopped for last year. Next to his name was my gift budget for this person.
Whenever I went shopping, I paid attention to the bold items because bold items were what was left to shop for. The numbers in pink represent how much I had already spent so far. This system of writing things down and assigning a budget to each person has really helped me to stay within my personal budget and not incur debt during the holidays. Give this a try when you shop this year; it’s easy to do whether you are using paper or your smart phone app!