Today is Black Friday, which marks the official launch of the holiday shopping season. But with the "r" word looming over us, many of us will be reining in our spending to make ends meet. Before you hit the mall or get click-happy with your mouse, consider these tips to help you keep your holiday shopping in check:
- Don't buy any gifts at all: It might sound crazy, but if you have an excessive amount of credit card debt (meaning way more than you can pay off at the end of the month), you may want to forego buying any gifts at all. Instead, give non-monetary gifts like coupons to shovel snow, walk your friend's dog or babysit their child. True friends and family will be understanding and appreciative. Just don't show up to the holiday festivities wearing all-new designer duds, because then you might invite some evil glances.
- Set a budget: Pick a number that feels right to you (honestly, you don't need to do any fancy calculations. You should have a gut feeling about what you can reasonably afford to spend), and then shop accordingly. Either use cash, or purchase a Visa giftcard to help you adhere to your budget. When the cash or giftcard has been spent, that's it. No more shopping.
- Make a list of gift recipients. Then cut it down. Can you honestly afford to buy everyone in your yoga class a thoughtful gift? Oftentimes, a personalized, heartfelt note is even better than giving a gift simply for the sake of giving something. Once you've narrowed down your list, stick to it.
Remember that keeping your spending in check isn't just the frugal thing to do, it's also the right thing to do in keeping with the spirit and tradition of the season. Today also marks the start of The Budget Babe's Guide to the Holidays so check back every day for budget-friendly gift ideas, cheap-chic ideas for party attire and more!