‘Fiscal’ and ‘Responsibility’ are not a girl’s best friends this time of year. (Or any time really. If it’s not a new stroller, it’s a new pair of shoes.)
But ever since we grew up and had kids, we have accepted the fact that they are a necessary evil. So we gathered up some tried and tested tips on how to make it through the season with your wallet and your holiday spirit intact (you might just save some time too).
- Establish a budget and stick to it. We know, easier said than done, but you have to make that list and check it twice. (A spreadsheet is highly recommended here.) List the names of the lucky gift recipient with the price you plan to spend. Don’t go shopping without your plan—know what you are going to buy Jack or Jill before you hit the mall to avoid impulse shopping (and going over budget).
- Keep a record of your spending. Recognize that over-spending in one area means that you MUST reduce costs in another…a notion that is easier said than done when you’re in the throes of the holiday spirit.
- Arrange a gift exchange for adult members of your family—you can buy one good gift rather than a few token gifts (that you might see back under the tree next year!)
- Agree not to exchange gifts with girlfriends. Instead, book time together doing something you enjoy or need to do (and would have spent money on anyway) like getting nails done or wrapping gifts together while enjoying some holiday cheer.
- Set a ‘drop dead’ date by when all your gifts are bought—and wrapped. That will leave you time to actually enjoy the festivities
- Many large chain stores will honour the sale price of an item that you bought at full price before the holidays. Savvy moms have discovered that if you see an item on sale after the holidays and you present your receipt, you can be reimbursed for the difference between what you paid and the sale price. (Ed note: keep all receipts.)
- Shop online, especially for friends and family who are out of town. It’s a great way to do some easy price comparison, no wrapping and schlepping to the post office and most online stores offer better shipping rates—especially during the holidays.
- Avoid a cash crunch (and possibly some ATM fees and line-up time) by stashing a $20 bill in a part of your wallet you don’t usually use, as well as in your glove compartment to ensure you always have a little emergency stash (whether for a cab or a last-minute hostess gift).
- Take something off your to-do list and send out New Year’s cards instead. Pick some up on sale, and write them when you have more time over the holidays. The recipients will have more time to read them then.
So let fiscal and responsibility be your friends. They make you feel better in the long run, and isn’t that what friends are for?