Y’all it’s so easy to do. You see something that you just KNOW your friend or family member will LOVE for a Christmas present, and you hand over the cash or the credit card to purchase your new-found treasure. Then—Oh wait! You see another something that you just KNOW your friend or family member will LOVE for a Christmas present… and before you know it you’re on the other side of the Holidays and Just. Plain. Flat. Broke.
You’re left feeling upset that you’ve allowed yourself to get to this place once again because, trust me, as you get older life doesn’t get any easier to get through the holiday gift giving season without a plan. If your future self wrote a letter to you, it would probably look something like this:
“Dear [Your Name Here],
Please, for the love, write out a budget for this holiday season. Be realistic about it. Besides gifts, think about the travel to [our holiday destinations] to visit [our favorite or… maybe least favorite people. Your secret is safe with me!]. Don’t forget to take into consideration all of those extra lattes we enjoy while out shopping! (P.S. Did you know we’re probably spending more on our coffee each year than our retirement? Yikes!)
Watch out for the retail tricks! There’s a reason why the US is expected to spend over 183 billion U.S. dollars for advertising in 2017, which includes market research to explore the psychology behind consumer decisions. Loyalty cards, store credit cards, decoy pricing, etc. are all ways that stores win in the end. If they didn’t profit from these practices, do you think they’d really keep doing them? Taking advantage of sales is a great way to shop if the purchases fit the requirements of our budget. Do not fall for the retailer mind games that convince you to buy a new tablet because you’ll get 72 rubber chickens for free!
Gift cards can make great gifts, but beware! Hope I got your attention with that statement, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking. When purchasing a gift card at a store or on a website, 72% do some shopping for themselves. Remember, you’re not shopping for us when you’re picking up that gift card for [the name of that person who we know is impossible to buy for].
Don’t forget that in order to properly execute a budget, tracking our spending is key. A budget is just numbers on a page unless you go back and account for how we spent the money on our budget items. There’s a sense of awareness and self-accountability when you complete the FULL process of budgeting.
Finally, please know that no one in our circle wants us to go into depression debt on January 2nd, after all of the parties are over and the tree is down. If you have to cut back on gift giving in comparison to previous years, you’ll know as soon as you write out your budget, so be sure to do that early. That way you can talk with friends and family ahead of time to explain your new vision for avoiding overspending during the holidays.
Sincerely,[Your name + some wisdom and sanity]
P.S. You’re welcome, my friend. Also, can you please tell our friends the the future says that man bun is a bad idea?