Every year it feels like it’s the same – I buy gifts for my friends and family all year round but for some reason it always feels like there is a major rush in the week before Christmas. I’m not sure if it’s all the hype around to get all the little bits and pieces or if it’s that I simply can’t resist some of the deals. I do love getting gifts for my friends and family as well as getting all the lovely Christmas food in for our meal. However, it just seems that if I go to the store to buy one thing, I end up coming out with five or more. It got so bad last year that I declared myself an impulse buyer and decided that I really needed to stop the insanity and develop a better plan.
This year part of the last minute running around has been an unexpected house guest we’re having. However, every year, there always seems like there’s an excuse – a gift that I end up needing to purchase for someone at the last minute. As you probably realize, last minute shopping itself is like an impulse purchase – the gift you get may be a waste of money and completely unnecessary; but they are also usually uncontrollable –which is why they’re considered impulse buys.
After one incident already where I came home with about five items I wasn’t even sure anyone would like I decided to take a closer look inside to avoid any further impulse purchases. So how do I keep myself under control during a time of constant overspending? I did a bit of research to find out some creative ways to find last minute gifts and as I started to implement them, have even managed to do so without having to pay full price.
So, in order to enlighten my audience, I thought that I would share a few of these last minute holiday shopping tips to help keep your budget in order as it’s doing with mine.
1) Make a list and check it twice – just like Santa does every year, we should be starting a list as soon as one Christmas ends. The reason I say this is that it helps to make note of anyone you may have accidentally forgot in the past. This way, you can think of them well in advance next year. Also if someone is forgotten and you don’t remember them to the last minute, ask yourself (as I did) if it’s really necessary to buy them a gift. Maybe they aren’t a close friend and an acquaintance – is there a real expectation to get them something or can you do something different for them or wait until the following year. By being prepared and more critical over your choice of who you give gifts to, it will help you to ensure you spend most of your time and money on the people that matter most in your life.
2) Keep a re-gifting stash – a very common tactic for children’s presents, it is always good to keep hold of some of those gifts you received that you weren’t too keen on. Remember the saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Just because you didn’t like the gift you received for your birthday or even Christmas last year doesn’t mean that someone else may not. If you are stuck for a last minute gift, why not try to look at what you have already to reduce the cost for yourself but also to put some of your current items to good use.
3) Consider online gifts or gift cards – instead of going to the shopping mall where you’re likely to be tempted by a lot of impulse purchases, why not shop online or buy a gift card? This way you can make your purchase short, to the point and sweet. Team a gift card or an online gift with a nice festive card and you’ll be good to go. One word of caution about online gifts is that impulse buys are probably still going to be there. Online shopping carts are just as smart at offering you some items you may like so be strong and try to minimize how much you spend online too.
4) Learn from the mistakes of holiday past – before you go out to the stores to make your last purchases for the Christmas season, look back at last year’s bills. When I did this, it shook me up a bit as it brought back some of the negative memories I had of having to pay off such a big bill. This way you’ll have that fresh in your mind when you get to the store which will hopefully deter you from those impulse buys. It may sound a bit extreme but it really helped me to manage my spending when it came down to things.
I don’t know about you but I love the holiday season. However, I really dislike how my typical budget conscious self seems to go out the window at this time of year. That’s the only thing that I really need to work on. Using these 4 steps has really helped me this year – I’ve been able to see a major difference in the amount of impulse purchases I’ve made.
The best part of all of this is that I’ve been able to take a much more proactive approach to the holiday season. Not only has it helped me manage my spending but it’s allowed me to reflect why I’m purchasing gifts for my loved ones. Instead of just going out and spending willy nilly, I’ve actually planned out what I wanted to buy and why. It’s reminded me of what Christmas is all about – showing the people you love that you care and what they mean to you.