Holiday spending series: Keeping your sanity and wallet in check during holiday season

Holiday shopping does not have to be stressful and it doesn’t need to burn a hole in your wallet. Here is how.

When you think of holiday shopping, do you envision navigating the mall through the masses, whining kids and a credit card bill that knocks the breath out of you one month after the holiday?

Well, holiday shopping does not have to be stressful and it doesn’t need to burn a hole in your wallet. Here is how:

  1. Plan wisely. Prior to heading out, make a list of everyone that you need to buy gifts for.  Beside each name write down the type of gift you would like to buy and how much you want to spend.  Calculate the total for all the gifts. When you go shopping to the mall, make sure that you bring cash equivalent to the total dollar value for all the gifts on your list.  By bringing the cash, as well as the list, you will resist the temptation to impulse shop.  
  2. Shop online and avoid the mall crowds. Not only will this help you to feel more peaceful and able to think clearly, but you can save on both time and money. A lot of retailers offer great discounts and coupons if you shop online during the holiday season. Just make sure you are aware of the shipping costs. Sometimes buying in bulk can save on that.  For example, if you buy gifts for several people from one retailer, your total charge may be over a certain dollar amount and may qualify you for free shipping.
  3. If you have a big family or a lot of friends on your gift list, instead of buying gifts for everyone and spending a small fortune, why not play the Secret Santa or Kris Kringle game? By doing so, each person buys only one gift within the dollar value that everyone has agreed on. Playing these games is fun. You can find the rules for each game on the Internet.
  4. Another way to save on holiday gifts is to give a gift of your time and talent. For example, you can give coupons for babysitting, massage or at-home manicure/pedicure.  Just make sure you set the date and follow through with your gifts.  Or you can use your talents and knit a scarf, bake cookies, or make dinner that can be frozen and used by a busy mom for her family later on.  You can get creative and make up your own gifts that are specifically designed for the needs of the person you are creating the gift for.
  5. Keep the receipts for all the gifts you bought. If you see the price has dropped for a particular gift, a lot of stores will refund your money for the price difference.
  6. Wrapping paper can be expensive. Instead, you can wrap your gifts in newspaper comics, leftover wallpaper, a scarf, baby blanket or pretty containers such as cookie boxes. Be creative and have fun.

About the Author

Maya Kuc Corbic, CPA, CA

Dinarii Financial Education Academy
Maya is a passionate advocate of financial literacy and is the founder of Dinarii Financial Education Academy. The academy’s mission is to teach children and youth financial literacy skills in a fun and engaging way, and give tools to parents to continue teaching personal finance at home. Dinarii offers student and parent workshops that qualify for the Parents Reaching Out Grant.