For we, the consumers, Christmas is the most expensive time of year, and retailers love it. We’re told Christmas is the time for giving, goodwill, and ‘holiday magic’ but for many of us, sad to say, it just comes down to big time shopping. Investing in the accoutrements associated with family time, like holiday meals, and Christmas decorations are the tip of the iceberg for the real deal that turns our wallets inside out each and every year: Christmas gifts. Below are 7 of the most common pitfalls of Christmas consumerism, combined with some money saving advice.
1. Gifting out of guilt.
So many of us go into auto-pilot this time of year, as if we have no other choice in but to go into massive debt every Christmas. The whole consumerism aspect has been so ingrained into our culture, that for some, feelings of deep guilt occur when even considering withholding presents. If you truly decide that gift giving isn’t in the cards for you this year, then accept it and keep it moving, and keep the guilt at bay. For real though, the true nature of giving should be out of generosity, not guilt .
2. Failing to create a Christmas Shopping budget.
Without setting & sticking to a reasonable budget, you may find yourself coming up short for January’s rent/mortgage, and a few other essential obligations in the coming year. Whether you set an overall amount, or allocate a specific amount for each individual you plan to give to, stick to it, to avoid adding “getting out of holiday debt” to your New Years Resolution list.
3. Do not use credit, unless…
Beware, if you use credit to provide presents, all hell could break loose if you lack a concise plan to pay back that debt. Some cards, especially of the retail variety, require you pay an interest rate of over 20%, so unless you can pay off all your purchases by the end of the month, you’ll be paying far more for than what you’ve (hopefully) budgeted for. Of course there are always exceptions. If your credit card offers zero percent interest on purchases, or you’re adept at navigating through the various rewards and cash bonuses offered by your creditor, ‘charging it’ may not be such a bad idea after all.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Speaking from experience, holiday shopping procrastination is a fantastic way to burn your wallet to a crisp. Waiting until the last minute leaves time for nothing – particularly of quality. Forget crafting thoughtful handmade items, and when searching for reasonably priced items that you just know your best friend, mom, or lova would adore, they’re nowhere to be found. As a result, many of us end up overspending to avoid giving cheap and thoughtless looking gifts.
5. Resisting online shopping.
Shipping costs are annoying, but free – and rapid – shipping is becoming more readily available from many online retailers. Additionally, by shopping online, you’ll miss out on transportation costs and frantic crowds. An extra bonus: Many companies offer special deals that are only available for online buyers.
6. Getting a holiday card for everyone & their mom.
It’s a lovely notion, and not to discourage it, but one that most likely gets discarded shortly after the arrival of the New Year. Sending the fancy cards to folks near and dear to you is cool, but you can save by sending acquaintances and colleagues something a little less costly. Consider sending a message of holiday cheer on the cheap, or for free via an e-card. Dig this site, for example. If you can get past the cheese factor, free e-cards can be a fine option because it’s the thought that counts, right?
7. Getting gifts for everyone and their mom.
Some holiday shoppers get seriously caught up in the spirit of giving and feel the need to break off everyone from family members, co-workers to the door-person at their office building. Words of advice to the mega-gifter: Proceed with caution. If you can’t be swayed from your Santa-like urges, please do so without breaking the bank. Perhaps you can follow a tier system, giving the pricier gifts to the people who matter the most in your life, and maybe dollar store styled generosity for those on the periphery.
Just a handful here, but there are many ways in which folks just throw their money away during the holiday season. What are your experiences/thoughts on the matter?