Christmas is the easiest time of the year to charge crap on your credit card. Most Americans will wake up after the holidays with a financial hangover that lasts until July from the money spent on credit…
It’s okay though, right? Christmas is a time of giving. If kids don’t get that new playstation-xbox-ipad-etc. they won’t be able to function right in today’s society.
Besides, if I can’t afford it now, I’ll be able to pay it off over the next 6 months at little interest.
That’s where you’re wrong.
The Drunk Millionaire would like to challenge that notion. Unless you take steps before the marketing fervor hits and have a plan for holiday gift purchasing, you will impulse buy until you’re in debt up to your eyeballs!
Make a list and check it twice
The first step to take when shopping responsibly is to make a budget. Whip out a notepad or start a new excel sheet. At the top of the page write down how much you can afford/would like to spend for holiday gifts.
Stick to this number. Most people don’t start out with this number so they ALWAYS exceed it, resulting in putting the extras on the credit card.
Once this number is established, start a sort of shopping list. Write down each person you intend to give gifts to and then write down what gifts you plan to give them. Calculate the value of each gift and keep a running tab. We recommend doing a dry run first and jotting/typing down all the items you had intended to purchase. Then see if your sum was below or above what you had planned to spend.
I tend to overshoot the amount I had planned to spend and need to amend the list to get back in line with my starting number.
Another problem with not having a clear, pre-formed, holiday shopping list is that you will forget what you got someone and double purchase. You will also continuously purchase gifts with no regulation when you don’t have a plan.
Beware of Black Friday
Despite the many negatives associated with shopping on black Friday (people density, rudeness, anger, stupidity, etc.), many millions of people will venture out into the cold Friday morning, shoveling down Starbucks and doughnuts, seeking to score a “deal” like a heat seeking missile.
I have learned from several business owners that some companies produce lower quality versions of products specifically for Black Friday. This includes TVs, tools, cameras, computers, etc.
They provide these deeply discounted prices for these products because they are typically crap. Additionally, they usually have a reduced “store only” warranty which means you can’t get a replacement when your new TV breaks in a month and a few days.
It’s important to be aware that a cheap price might not always be the best in terms of long term savings.
A better day to consider shopping is Small Business Saturday. Most small business will offer perks such as discounted prices. Many of these locations typically sell higher quality items than a big box store like Walmart would on Black Friday. This is also extremely beneficial for the local economy.
Cyber Monday is another great way to save. It’s easy to find steeply discounted products and many sites offer free shipping.
Parting Money-Saving Ideas
- Start early and watch for deals.
- Use coupons- flyers, emails, Retailmenot app, etc. Even doing a simple Google search for “coupons for __________” may give you a certain percentage off an item or entire purchase.
- If possible use more than one coupon. This can be done by shopping on a day that everything in the store is a percentage off, and then use another coupon. Although this only works at certain stores.
- Shop online. Look for better pricing! Don’t forget to always get free shipping; if necessary return something to a brick and mortar store.
- If you are shopping somewhere small (like etsy.com) always send an email to the store owner asking if they offer a discount (especially if you are purchasing more than one item- ask for quantity discount) In my experience, this is usually 15%
- Even in a brick and mortar store, ask- “Is this the best price? Are there any coupons I could or should be using?” Some cashiers will gladly share!
Finally, don’t stumble around stores on Black Friday like you’re drunk. Instead make a plan prior to going out, stick to that plan, and be financially responsible- trust me, you’ll appreciate when July rolls around and you’re not paying for junk that may have been thrown away by that point.
Learn the 4 Steps to become a Drunk Millionaire.