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This is a guest article from Evan Fischerhe holidays are just about here: excitement and a chill in the air, the thrill of the hunt for the perfect gift for that special someone and the anticipation of what your loved ones have wrapped under the tree for you. But it’s also the time when you suddenly realize exactly how many gifts you have to buy, which can become overwhelming and will grow into a holiday nightmare if you let it. Here are a few helpful hints you can follow to reduce your stress by creating a spending budget for this year’s gifting season.
Just like Santa Claus, you too should make a list of who’s been naughty, who’s been nice, and everyone in between. Start with the essential people in your life: your family, your loved ones, spouses, children, and your close friends. Consider gift exchanges at work, and include your boss in the equation. Once you have your list down you can begin to cross people off. This can be tough, but you can ease the process by sending a holiday card wishing them well instead, especially if you haven’t seen them in at least a year.
Before you can even consider shopping, begin to brainstorm ideas. Anything goes: how about a Green Dot Prepaid card or a prepaid news subscription? Getting all your ideas out on paper will help you save time and energy as you compile your thoughts, rather than running willy nilly all over town. Once you have a workable list you can begin price comparing, which is an even easier process if you do it online.
As you compose your budget, check your bank account and begin to plan accordingly. You don’t want to be paying off this year’s holiday bill twenty Christmases from now!
One of the most important tips to remember is that once you have set your spending limit, stick to it. Don’t be afraid to discuss your limit with friends and loved ones. How much can you afford to spend on each other? This will help you all decide a limit that works for everyone. Now is also the time to teach your children about the true meaning of the holiday: people exchange gifts to show how their feelings of love or appreciation, not to compete.
Keep track of your purchases after you have completed your budget. Don’t forget to include wrapping paper, bows, name cards, and postage! If you are beginning to feel that you may go over budget, think of ways to cut corners. A homemade gift is more heart-felt and shows someone that you took the time to create a present because you care for them. Can you go in with other friends or family members on one big gift? This is a tip you can try at the office as well. If you are freaking out because you overspent on one gift, simply reduce your limit for another. Your budget is probably going to evolve – let it happen!
Your successful stress reduction and peace of mind will benefit greatly if you are as strategic with your planning as you are thoughtful with your gifts.
About the Author: Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.