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Christmas Shopping – Stick to your Budget

Santa’s list gets bigger and bigger each year. If you have children, the list normally gets more expensive as well. Christmas shopping is one of those necessary evils, however it can be a great way to get in the Christmas spirit and enjoy the season. There are a few tricks to shopping for the holidays that take some preparation, and will help to ensure the season is flawless and you are not left suffering from shopper’s remorse come January.

The first necessity is to make a list. And yes, check it twice. Marketers have become experts at enticing shoppers during Christmas with sales and displays banking (literally) on the fact that you will be prepared to impulse shop. Avoid it with as much fever as you do the candy aisle. Most of the items gift boxed and sold in sets just for the holidays are the types of gifts that most people hate to receive. The robes, bath soaps, tacky travel items and novelties, big packs of underwear, perfume collections and shiny jewelry are the items that pretty much admit you had no idea what to buy someone, felt like you had to so settled for the most economical display at the checkout. The problem is that your hard-earned money being poured into gifts that are useless is the same things as flushing $100 bills down the toilet.

When your list is ready and you know whom you are going to shop for, start looking online for sales first. Christmas shopping online can save you lots of money. On big-ticket items like computers or electronics, the future sales to come are usually leaked to consumer sites. Remember that just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean it’s the best deal and all the electronic bundles are ways that companies are getting rid of unsold merchandise. If you have to pay $50 for the camera bundle and get three things you don’t need, you are better off saving $5 on just the digital camera. Sometimes, in the midst of a sale, it is difficult to keep you head and you feel as if you don’t act right away, that you will miss out. Remember, this is the intention of businesses and companies around the world. They want you to think and believe that the item your hands are on is the last one within a 66-mile radius.

Many of you may have shopped during Black Friday. If so, hats off to you. If not, the economic reports and experts will tell you that the closer to Christmas the better the sales will be. If you can wait until after Christmas, you may find even better ones. There is nothing wrong with wrapping a picture of an item for adults and those other people in your life that don’t get visits from Santa anymore, in order to save several hundred dollars.

One of the most ridiculous things that people do during Christmas is exchange gift cards. If you are still buying presents for your grown cousins, sisters, brothers and their wives and you are just exchanging a piece of painted plastic, it may be a good idea to open the discussion of only enhancing Christmas for the kids. If that doesn’t feel right, than taking the time for an outing together or a nice dinner can be much more meaningful. Gift cards are appropriate for the non-essentials in your life, in other words the people whose homes you have not visited or who you just want to thank for their services. For instance, the postman, teachers, UPS men, hairdressers or any one else who you feel deserves a gift but is not a close and personal friend. Exchanging gift cards or money during the holidays for the sole purpose of having a gift to give and get is silly.

Another thing to keep in mind to make Christmas shopping less stressful is to execute a budget and stick to it. You are not a fish to be lured, so spend only the money you have, avoid credit cards if possible and feel good about what you have to give rather than insecure about what you don’t! The people in your life, children included, would rather you be happy and stable financially than stretched to your limits by trying to do too much.

So many adults forget that the holidays are supposed to be fun. Shopping malls and stores are decorated so beautifully and most of the people working or shopping are in good moods. The holiday magic is one of attitude and it can be a fun adventure shopping during the holidays. Prepare yourself for the crowds, for longer lines and try to just enjoy the moments you are out and about playing Santa. This will allow you to get in the Christmas mood without turning into Scrooge himself and will put some pep in your step as Christmas approaches. The old saying, “it’s the thought that counts” is true and putting thought into gifts for others is a great way to boost your spirits and reacquaint you with the often forgotten feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for the people in your life, the abundance of things you have, the feeling of Christmas, first snowflakes and spreading cheer and joy to others. That is what Christmas and Christmas shopping is really about.

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