Why you should be Christmas shopping all year long
If there is one area where most families let their budget down it’s at Christmas. There are some pretty staggering statistics about how much money people spend at Christmas, and even scarier figures about how much of this is put onto credit cards. Christmas should be about spending time with family, not putting your family into a dangerous financial situation.
The astounding thing about Christmas spending is that Christmas happens at the same time every single year. It’s not an ‘unexpected’ expense or an emergency. In reality it should be one of the easiest events to plan for each year. We know when it will be, we have 52 weeks to prepare for it and it can easily be incorporated into our weekly budget. Below are some simple ways in which you can start planning for Christmas at the start of they year to ensure you won’t blow the budget (or the credit card) next time.
How to prepare for Christmas shopping all year long
Set a budget
There’s no magic formula for this and the maths is pretty simple. Work out what you can afford to spend on Christmas each year (I said afford, not how much you want to) and divide it by 52. That is the amount you have each week to go into a Christmas account. This can be an actual account that you use only for Christmas, or simply just another section of your budget that you keep aside for Christmas. By having a budget, you can then buy throughout the year while still keeping track of what you have spent. It’s up to you how you allocate your spend per person.
Shop throughout the year
I’m not a huge fan of the ‘annual sales’, especially the toy sales, as they seem to be a lot of hype without the huge savings you are necessarily expecting. I often see people spend a fortune in these sales thinking that they are getting huge bargains when really they are averaging around a 20% discount. Yes, it’s still a discount, but honestly, most items are 20% or more off every few weeks if you keep an eye on the specials. For me to buy an item during the year it has to be a substantial discount. Normally around 40% off or more, and I aim for at least 50%. I keep an eye on clearance sales, especially at the end of each season. Often you’ll find items on clearance and then they will also have an additional storewide discount off them as well – perfect! These are the items I buy and put away. Departments stores like Target, Big W, Kmart and Myer are the best for this – become a savvy shopper and see how much you can save!
Track your purchases
There’s no point grabbing bargains throughout the year if you don’t know who they’re for and where they are when Christmas comes around. It can be addictive to buy items on special, but it’s important to make sure you are actually buying the item for someone on your list. There’s no point getting to Christmas and realising you have more presents than people who you needed to buy for – that defeats the whole purpose! Cross them off when you’ve purchased for them and make a note of where you’ve put it!
Don’t feel you have to spend the full ‘allocation’ for each person
I often hear of people who set a budget per person (let’s say $50) and then find amazing specials meaning that they find a great $50 retail price item for a lot less. They then feel that they need to buy more items until they’ve spent the full $50. Why??? The gift recipient will be none the wiser. They’ll still get a great gift. The gift will still be worth the amount you wanted and there’s more money in your pocket than the big retailers. Win win!
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