This article is presented by Kelly Whalen, Consumerism Commentary staff writer.
The temptation to spend money is everywhere, especially during the holidays. There is something magical about lights glowing, soft Christmas music playing everywhere, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that seems to make money fly right out of everyone’s wallet.
Whether you enjoy the busyness of the holiday as much as I do, or not, it’s likely you have a few gifts to purchase during the week leading up to Christmas. You may, like me, still have some items still unchecked on your list, or you might be one of the 19% of holiday shoppers who haven’t started their holiday shopping. Either way, you can get your holiday shopping faster than Santa can fill stockings by trying these suggestions to curb your holiday spending. (note: the same principles apply year round)
- Make a list, and check it twice: I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. A holiday shopping list is the ideal way to keep your spending in check. Just like a grocery list it will keep you from forgetting you already bought a gift for Great Aunt Sylvia or worse leaving someone off your list.
- Take advantage of FREE Shipping Day: Today only, December 17, is “Free Shipping Day” at many etailers. For a complete list go to FreeShipping.com If a retailer isn’t on that list, try calling their stores or customer service line. Some companies, such as Land’s End at Sears, offer free shipping if you order from the store. What could be a better way to finish your gift list from the comfort of your own home.
- Look, but don’t touch: When you touch an item you are more likely to buy it, according to Time magazine. Keep your hands in your pockets, or if you can’t keep from touching look at the sticker price first, so you can shock yourself into not buying.
- Concentrate on the recipient: While it should go without saying, putting yourself in your recipient’s shoes will allow you to walk away from overspending. I found myself dreaming of a particular toy that I have not been able to find for one of the kids. After considering a web-wide hunt for said gift, I realized it was my own nostalgia that colored my perception of the “perfect” gift. I could give a gift that was similar for half the cost, and the kiddo would still be thrilled.
- Shop after the holiday: If you don’t have small children, or will be visiting far-flung relatives after 12/26, consider going shopping on 12/26 when the products in many stores are reduced significantly.
- Don’t try to do it all! Most of us have precious little free time. Use your free time to be with your family, or friends instead of focusing on hunting down the perfect gift, or squeezing in 5 holiday parties in 2 days.
- Opt out. Many families are scaling back, but you might consider opting out of gift exchanges altogether. This only works well for adults, or families with older children, so proceed with caution. Some families choose a vacation over exchanging gifts.
Do you have any tips for curbing your spending?
Published or updated December 17, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.