It is that time of the year when shopping becomes a stressful spending extravaganza and even though shopping in these parts is not like that in some African, Asian, American and European countries with “Black Fridays” and “Cyber Mondays” these tips can help you plan for a fun and financially sound Christmas.
- Make a Budget
This is a special time of the year and calls for extra effort and extra money. It may not be fun, but knowing in advance how much you can spend will relieve a lot of stress.
Make a menu, compile a drinks list, a list of people you will send a card to, how many gifts you will buy and for whom, what type of decorations you would like and whatever else will require cash.
Don’t budget for more money than you have or know you can save by the deadline as this can easily turn into a budget disaster.
- Shop Early
Shop in advance if you can and avoid the crowds. Do not shop at the last minute when it’s a whole lot crazier. With so many things to buy and so many people crowding the aisles you will need all your wits about you and being early and among fewer people helps a lot.
When you shop months in advance do not worry about missing out on bargains as some deals during the Christmas period are mere gimmicks. Waiting until the last minute to shop can make you panic buy and force you to pay more than you should.
Catch the sales as they crop up and only pick an item on your list if is advertised for less than your budget allotted.
- Track Your Budget
Even if you shop early make sure that you keep to your budget and that it is up to date. Always have a copy with you on your smartphone and always refer to it when faced with an irresistible deal.
Check before you buy how much you planned to spend and where you wanted to spend the money especially as the days grow nearer because everything is supposedly on sale everywhere.
Do not succumb to the lure to spend, spend, and spend and beware of the retailer’s ploys that tell you that you have to buy this to get that as it’s a lure to get you to buy something you may not need.
Make sure you consult your budget—and then stick to it.
- Leave Children at Home
There are the games and prizes, the many people (some of them in strange bright red costumes), the balloons and loud music, the pictures of snow, reindeers and the many, many shiny Christmas decorations and trees. All the things you of course do not want your children to miss out on but shopping will be a lot more inexpensive and go a lot more quickly if you went alone.
If you must and hate shopping alone pick a shopping partner who has the same goals and focus rather than someone who is likely to veer off plan.
- Use All Your Sources
If you have social media accounts, use them. Look out for those sneak ads from your friends and contacts about dressmaking, cake baking, decorating, fresh vegetables, organically fed chickens and all manner of things that people sell online.
Also, many big name stores offer coupons or discounts that can be a real help on your budget so although relatively late to do so just before Christmas sign up for loyalty cards from different outlets and get alerts on your phone (for the next year) for great discounts.
Do not forget the street corner, the Church Market days, the Craft markets and the second hand listings. Brand-new items in original packaging sometimes show up at some of these events so do not ignore them.
Have a joyous time.