How I Budget & Shop for Christmas
Have you started yet? Are you a year-round gift picker-upper? Or do you do it all on Black Friday? Or are you a last minute, live life a quarter mile at a time, do it at the last minute type of chick?
I’m a little bit of a mix of all of these things. I like to be prepared and hate shopping at the last minute – but that’s not to say I’ve never done it. I remember one December 22nd, frantically attempting to put together gifts for my husband’s co-workers because he forgot to tell me he needed 6 Christmas gifts.
I’ve got a post coming up that will highlight some of my favorite, thoughtful gifts without breaking the bank, so I’m not going to talk too much about what I purchase so much as how I purchase it.
Each January (yes, January) I set up a SmartyPig set to end the following November. Sometimes it’s the 15th, sometimes it’s the 30th – this year I did the 1st! – but either way, I set up a SmartyPig to pull out a little bit of money each month so that come November/December I’m not having to bankroll all of my holiday shopping.
The amount I save for Christmas may or may not work for you, so I’m not listing a number here, but try to think about what you usually spend for the holidays and just let SmartyPig set up your automatic contributions for you. It’s so nice not to have to think about it at all – it’s kind of like the money just magically appears when you need it! It’s a Christmas miracle! (I’ll show myself out.)
I also start a page in my planner where I list out all the usual suspects – those folks we buy gifts for every year. I use that page as a place to jot down gift ideas throughout the year. My husband and I both have siblings with holiday-time birthdays as well, so I keep those ideas handy too!
On Amazon, I have a private Wish List only I can see that I use to house gift ideas, as well. If I’m shopping and come across things I think other people would like, I just add them to the Amazon list. You can also add links to items outside Amazon to the list, so it becomes a bit of a catch-all for Christmas gift ideas.
I like to do as much of my shopping on Amazon as possible because I hate people, and I hate crowds, and as much as I love Christmas music, the mall is just not a place I’d like to be during the holiday rush.
I usually end up at the mall at least once, though. I’m not a total scrooge.
Anyway, once I transfer the money from my SmartyPig over to my checking I’ll usually make a giant Amazon order right away with everything I’ve stockpiled into my secret wish list. Then I’ll pull the rest of the money out in cash for any shopping I need to do in actual brick and mortar stores. This insures I won’t blow over my spending limit.
My husband and I also cap spending on each other. He’s not really a gift guy – he has very minimal wants and needs and often times trying to get gift ideas out of him is like pulling teeth. But he’s very thoughtful about buying gifts for me and I always feel guilty when he goes overboard buying me stuff. So we set a hard limit for each other (and the dogs, lol) and try not to go over it!
There it is! My super secret tip for having an easy Christmas – plan early! Shop online! Bask in the fact that you’ve got all your shopping done by December 1st and can just sit back and enjoy the holidays. It’s glorious.