It’s all too easy to spend more than you bargained for over the Christmas period. Let’s be honest, the temptations are everywhere: the added social engagements, the parties, the advertising (just 10 shopping days left!) that seems to bombard you at every turn and, of course, there are all those presents you are expected to buy for your loved (and even not so loved) ones.
Make no mistake, the pressure is on to spend money like water, or to be considered mean-spirited and possibly scrooge-like.
The truth is, you don’t have to spend excessively and, if you use a little imagination and budget sensibly, you can survive the whole festive season, without having to empty your bank account before 2016.
1. Free money
Yes, you are probably surrounded by stuff you don’t like, don’t want, don’t use, so why keep it? Sell it, on eBay or Gumtree, or similar. You might be surprised how much you can make from stuff you’ve probably forgotten about. That old antique that doesn’t look good with your new design ideas. The exercise bicycle gathering dust, etc., etc.
Next, gather up your loose change and throw it into the Coin Counter at your bank, it might add up to a pretty penny. So, it’s like free money, making your Christmas spending budget look healthier right away.
2. Think inexpensive
It doesn’t mean you are cheap, it means you know how to shop wisely. Start by making a list of the presents you HAVE to buy to avoid becoming a social pariah. Then start working out how to save money without anybody noticing. You’ll be surprised how you can buy essentially the same object at a fraction of the price just by doing some canny online shopping research first.
3. Never, ever, just wander into a shop
You might as well have ‘sucker’ written on your forehead. Always do your homework and make a list of the items you’re looking for. Then do an online search to see where you can buy those items for the lowest price. The chances are someone somewhere has the gifts you need on sale. Or, someone else has an unwanted gift exactly the same, or similar, they can’t wait to unload at a bargain price. Online shopping destinations such as Gumtree and eBay are ideal starting points for your search.
If you’re looking for cameras, domestic appliances, bicycle and other similar items, check to see if the previous model is available a sale price. If it’s basically the same item, as they often are, why not buy the one on sale?
4. Insider tips
Lots of fancy gifts are worth a lot less if they don’t come with the right box, especially online items. Posh perfumes can cost a fortune, but not if the box is missing or damaged.
This is an opportunity to buy an expensive perfume at a bargain price. Just wrap it in a nice gift box, and tie it up with a beautiful ribbon (hopefully, she won’t miss the original box). This principle goes for a wide range of expensive items – they are much cheaper if the packaging is damaged or not available. And, once it’s been torn open by the lucky receiver, it’s hardly an issue is it?
5. “I don’t have a clue what to buy”
There’s a number of potential gifts almost anyone will be happy to receive:
- Books – they look great, they can provide hours of pleasure, suggest the receiver is intelligent, well read and, nowadays, even the most impressive volumes are relatively inexpensive.
- Flowers – a personal gift that shows how much you care. They’ll look stunning, even if they don’t last too long.
- Cinema tickets – only the committed misery chops wouldn’t be happy to receive some tickets to see the movie of their choice. A pack of cinema tickets are never a bad choice.
- Alcohol – if you know the recipient doesn’t mind the odd drink, you can be sure another bottle will be happily received and consumed at some point.
- Gift cards – okay, it does suggest you aren’t the world’s most imaginative shopper, but it’s a safe choice and avoids making an expensive mistake.
6. The Two Dollar Store
Who hasn’t wandered into a bargain store and not been amazed what you can get for so little money?
When you shop at these stores, you should spend recklessly, like you’re made of money. See a set of tools? Go crazy and buy the toolbox too. The chances are you’ve still spent less than $15, but appear to have spent far, far more. These aren’t the best shopping destination to buy presents for your nearest and dearest, but ideal for distant relations, friends and ‘tree’ presents.
7. Early sales bargains
Another no – brainer for those looking for impressive presents that don’t cost the earth.
Every year the festive season sales seem to start earlier and earlier and the traditional January sales now appear to start in December. All the major stores are keen to clear their existing stock and you’ll be surprised how many great deals are available if you start looking a week or two before Christmas. Just don’t expect to find the best options on Christmas Eve – shop early to nab the very best bargains.
8. Photographs and Memorabilia
There are some presents that are worth more than money. For example, old photographs are often seen once and forgotten for years, even decades. Yet most people would love to see them again.
If you have some great photographs tucked away in a drawer, why not spent some time hunting for some old favourites and have them framed. Or, find a few of a similar size and have them framed as a small collection.
Every thoughtful, personal gift will be treasured forever and, again, it needn’t cost much at all. You can save even more and buy some DIY frames. Job done.
9. Give to a charity
There’s always pressure to appear to be generous, by buying an extravagant present. If you don’t want to compete in the shopping rat race, why not donate money to a good cause? There are thousands of people in need and who can complain if you announce you are donating your spending money to a favourite charity? In truth, if we all chose to spend money on a charity rather than on gifts, we could solve many of the world’s poverty problems faster than we do now.
10. “I’m desperate for cash”
If you really need extra cash to buy a special present for someone important in your life, you could consider one of the 0% interest cards on the market. There are a few to choose from and they can be a convenient way to purchase gifts, if used wisely. To avoid building up a potential credit problem, make sure you pay the full sum before the stated repayment deadline and DON’T be tempted to use the card to make further purchases. The easiest solution is to arrange regular monthly repayments with your bank debit card to ensure it all happens automatically. Another problem solved.
The festive season is meant to be a time of fun and enjoyment, but it all comes at a price too. For many people, shopping for the festive season is a yearly nightmare.
Nevertheless, as these top 10 tips prove, if you plan a little earlier and think outside the box, you can make everyone happy without spending that fortune you don’t have.