Here are some great tips from one of my former clients, Kristan!
Are you dreaming of a debt free Christmas? I have to admit that there was a time in my life when the idea of even contemplating controlling my spending at the holidays would have thrown me into a full blown panic attack. I equated love with the size of my shopping receipts and believe me, I loved a LOT. Christmas was all about my feelings… feelings that I wanted … and feelings that I was trying to avoid. I shopped my emotions like a drunken sailor and paid for it with a big old debt hangover in January… just as countless other women do every year.
Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since my debt filled days of yore, and have learned some tips that I hope will help you have a truly happy holiday…. without the guilt and an empty wallet.
1. Begin with the end in mind
It’s important to plan ahead and take the time to visualize what your Christmas shopping is going to look and feel like. Decide what you want to spend, what you intend to buy, what you will feel like when you are shopping and, most importantly, what you will feel like after the holidays are over. When you are actually shopping and it feels different from how you expected it to feel when you were calm and thinking rationally, take a moment to STOP and evaluate what you are feeling and WHY before you swipe that credit card! This trick will help you decide if you are shopping with your emotions instead of your budget!
2. Make a list and check it twice
Take a look at your shopping list. Are you certain that everyone on that list needs to be there?
Surprisingly, some people don’t like big, expensive gifts! My husband’s “love language” is clearly not receiving gifts, for instance. I learned this the hard way when I spent an irresponsible amount of money on a Paul McCartney bass guitar replica which I placed lovingly under the tree, only to see the look of ‘what the hell is this” in his eyes when he opened the package. He just isn’t turned on by my spending money on him. So instead, I now buy him a gift certificate to his favorite old book store and he’s thrilled.
There are others you might consider taking off the list or “downgrading”. Years ago my friends, parents, and siblings decided that we would give each other the “gift of no gifts”. It’s truly joyous. Just remember to discuss this plan of no gift giving PRIOR to showing up empty handed!
3. Check your state
Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT shop when you are hungry, sad, exhausted, stressed, or lonely. You do not want low blood sugar or low serotonin when using a credit card…it never ends well. If you suddenly have a desire to shop and you didn’t have a day at Barney’s on the calendar, STOP. What is it that is making you want to shop at this moment? Is there a void that you are trying to fill? Do you really just need a hug, to pet your cat, or to call a friend? Just as waiting 20 minutes after dinner to decide if you reallllly want desert helps you control your eating, you should wait and see if the desire to spend money simply goes away.
4. It’s not about you, sister!
If you find yourself coming home with over- stuffed shopping bags and a new wardrobe, you’re not Christmas shopping… You’re redecorating your closet! Stay focused and do not get tricked into buying something that you don’t really need! You can always promise yourself that you can shop the big sales in January. Those spur of the moment purchases are a sure fire way to blow your budget.
5. Get an Accountability Partner
If you aren’t great at holding yourself accountable, it’s time to ask for help! A friend of mine shops with her husband. He helps to rope her in when she is tempted to pull out the “hidden” credit cards. Another friend shops with her mother (need I say more?). Just do NOT shop with someone who will encourage you to SPEND! Shop with someone who knows the value of sticking to a budget. When your credit card bill comes in January, you’ll be so glad that you did!
Happy Holidays & Happy Savings!
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