Written by J.H. Gibbons
Happy Holidays, Achromous family! I am sure you’re in the midst of writing lists and checking them twice. Whether you’re naughty or nice, you plan to spend money on gifts for those you love. But, before you walk out of that door with your new credit card in hand, there are somethings you need to know. Retail businesses know they will have a big year. After all we’re heading into a post-pandemic era for the first time in a few years. Even though the economy is a bit shaky right now, they know that you’re looking to get things back to normal by any means necessary.
If you struggle to save money and hold onto every dime in your pocket during this holiday season, let Achromous guide you with a list of the top 10 holiday shopping tips to save you money.
Wants vs. Needs
Sometimes this is a tough decision to make because you have to separate what you believe you want versus what you actually need. Can you go another month without that Chanel purse or those Yeezy’s? Would it hurt you to invest in your home by repairing something that you’ve been putting off for years? Think about how this purchase will affect your pockets months down the road. Always have the mindset of an investor instead of a habitual spender.
Spend Less Than What You Make
Unfortunately, many of us don’t have Kardashian money right now. So, we should try to keep up with their spending habits. In fact, you should normally be spending only a small percentage of your paycheck each pay period. Now that the holidays are here, you should be cutting that down by 25%. There is no need to rack up credit card debt only to put down minimum payments to completely pay it off. You would actually be paying more money overall if you did it that way. The best habit you can build here is to have emotional control over your money. Now that you know what you need versus what you want, you can make the decision to put a cap on your holiday spending.
Straight Cash, Homie
Take my advice. Leave your credit cards at home. The only plastic you should have in your wallet is a debit card or your state issued ID. Bringing your credit card to Christmas shopping is like running into a fire with gasoline on your body. You will either get severely burned with a long road to recovery or you won’t recover at all. In this country, there is nothing more important that leveraging your credit score. Bringing cash will allow you to be limited with your spending without having access to reserves. Once the cash is done, the shopping is done. It’s that simple.
Look for Discounts
Every time I go to the local Safeway in my neighborhood, I look for discounted products. It has turned into more than a habit for me. Since we’re all competitors here, I know you’ll understand this feeling. I feel as though I’ve won when I see how much I saved during checkout. Knowing that more money could have left my account at the end of my shopping mission makes me feel satisfied with my spending habits. You can do the same during your holiday shopping mission. As I mentioned earlier, retail stores understand that you will be spending. They’re looking to entice you to shop more by providing deals. Even when you get to checkout, don’t be afraid to try and negotiate a sale. The worst thing that could happen is that you get a rejection. But the best case scenario could get you more money in your pocket.
Make a List
Even Santa makes a list. He wants to make sure everyone gets what they deserve and we do, too. Before you leave the house, make a list of gifts you want to buy. I would also advise you to check with the stores to determine what kind of promotions they have for what you’re looking to purchase. Be sure to limit that list to needs vs. wants for your loved ones. Look around the house or think back to conversations you’ve had with your friends, family and loved ones. Most of the time, they would have mentioned what they needed with you having to ask them. That list should consist of gifts that make sense for your loved ones and your wallet.
Buy Gifts Early
Why wait until Christmas Eve to go shopping? I usually take care of my holiday shopping in November. The best time for me would be Thanksgiving weekend, rolling into Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I buy gifts early to take advantage of great deals without much shopping traffic. If I wait until the day before, I will be fighting for room inside each store and be completely overwhelmed by the foot traffic. Buying gifts early allows you to store, wrap and hide your gifts before the big day.
Set a Spending Limit
Remember that list we talked about making earlier? Well, on that list you should have a spending limit next to each person you plan on buying a gift. Of course, you would have already done the math to know how much money you would need, in cash, to put aside for each person. A great rule of thumb would be to spend no more than 1% of your annual income on holiday gifts. So, if you make $80,000 per year, you’re not allowed to go over $800 for your holiday shopping. It may be difficult to stay true to this spending habit. However, you will be thanking yourself in the long run.
Do you want to take advantage of the convenience of shopping from your phone or laptop rather than going into a store and waiting in long lines for hours? Amazon and other online ecommerce platforms have deals and sales year-round, especially during the holiday season. However, you must be wise and cautious with your spending. Since you’re using a bank card for purchasing and you can’t physically feel the money leaving, you may be more inclined to spend a little more. But thank goodness we have our spending limit and gift list prepared, right?
Sometimes, buying gifts right after the holidays would help saving you money and time. Although the holiday would be over and everyone will be going back to their normal schedules, you could avoid the long lines and traffic during the holiday season. Also, we forgot to talk about inventory. Do you believe the shelves would be packed during the holidays? Do you believe that gift that you’re looking for would be there during the mad rush of customers? Most likely it won’t. Instead, you can wait until shelves are restocked and avoid the lines.
Thoughtful vs. Expensive Gifts
I hope this one doesn’t get any of us in trouble with our spouses. It truly is the thought that counts when it comes to buying gifts for a loved one. We’ve all seen those viral videos online with a man buying his significant other a new, expensive car or a mansion for Christmas. The issue isn’t the gift itself. If you’re making a lot of money, then buying a gift like this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re living above your means or trying to impress someone knowing you don’t have it, then you’re being thoughtless. Instead, pick up on the little things your significant other shared with you in the past. Buy a gift you know they will need. It’s not to say they don’t need a new house or car. Just be wise with your purchases.
I hope you all have a happy holiday season and that you’re living your best life. These spending tips should help you save the money you’ve earned and allow you to pay yourself first.