If you’re not one of the few to whom just thinking about holiday shopping brings gushes of excitement, enthusiasm and intense desire to rush out to the mall, then this article is for you.
The countdown has begun. The big day will soon be here. Here are some hints on how to enjoy the holidays without a financial hangover.
- Plan ahead. Try to give yourself plenty of time when you go shopping. Whether you’re shopping at the mall, at one of your favorite locally-owned stores, or on the internet, you make better decisions if you don’t feel rushed.
- Shop early. This year promises to be frustrating as products are limited or even unavailable and shipping is going to be slow. The holiday season last year was just a preview of problems that are likely this year. Last year, because of Covid more people shopped online than ever before and is a good idea this year as well. Sure, you will miss hearing all the Christmas carols at the mall and the hustle and bustle of people scurrying around trying to grab that last minute gift. But it will be so much easier and much less stressful.
- Think about your finances and, if at all possible, plan to pay either in cash or with a credit card that you will pay off before interest is due. Otherwise, you will pay more in interest than you save. Extended warranties are very profitable for the merchant and usually a bad deal for the consumer. Avoid GIFT CARDS. Most have fees or expiration dates. It’s less expensive to give cash and people don’t forget to use cash. If your credit card company sent you blank checks for the holidays, tear them up and burn them. They aren’t checks at all but really applications for high interest loans.
- Don’t shop without a list and make sure to compare prices.
- Look for merchants who will ship your gifts as we do at Creative Gifts to Go. It saves you the headaches of standing in long lines at the post office or UPS. Most of us merchants, who ship regularly, know how to pack for safe shipping and have accounts set up that allow us to avoid the long lines. We also ship so many gifts during the year that we receive heavy discounts with the shipping companies. As a result, we ship most of our gifts for only $10.95 in order to help pass the savings onto you.
- Save money by establishing holiday traditions. Few of us can afford to buy gifts for everyone we know. For your friends, bake cookies. Most people love cookies and you can make a beautiful gift by putting them in a decorative tin or box or by arranging them on a tray, wrapping in cello and topping with a bow as we did with this gift.Years ago when I was on the City Council in Yreka, California, I showed my appreciation to all the city employees by baking and delivering cookie trays to each department. It was a big job but you can’t believe how appreciative the employees were.
- Host a holiday tea and ask everyone to bring cookies to share. The most appreciated gifts are usually those on which little money is spent but come from the heart. Give a gift of yourself (a promise to babysit for a young mother or offer transportation for a senior).
- Above all, spend wisely. A small present that shows attention to the recipient’s interests means more than an expensive but impersonal gift.
A wonderful gift that I received last year was a holiday card from a friend here in Flagstaff. He included the story of a very special hollyhock plant that managed to come up on its own, thrive, grow to over 6 feet and bloom profusely without any of the care that he provided to the flowers he had planted. He included seeds he had saved from this wonder plant. This was a very special gift.
The holidays are only as stressful as you want to make them.