Holiday How To: 4 Tips on Setting a Shopping Budget

By  December 21, 2012

Whether you’re afraid to even look at your next credit card bill or waiting until the 11th hour to do your Christmas shopping, it’s easy for your wallet to empty quicker than you expected. Setting up a budget for the holiday season isn’t easy to do, but it’ll do wonders to reign in your spending before it’s too late. We looked to financial journalist Vera Gibbons to give us a few tips to becoming budget babes with great gifts!

Be Inclusive in Your Budget: Many make the mistake of just setting up a budget strictly for family and end up scrambling when it comes to their friends and co-workers. Gibbons recommends Secret Santas for large group so no one is left our and the amount limits are stricter than going it alone. “You sometimes find it’s the easiest way to go with these types of groups, and there’s fun sites like SecretSanta.com or Elfster.com that can make to a little more fun and easy to do,” she explained.

Splurge on Yourself Later: As tempting a discount on your favorite pair of shoes or bag might be, you may find your budget running away from you. Moderation, just like for everything else, is key. Besides there are going to be plenty of sales after the holidays are said and done. “A lot of us have credit card debt; fifty percent of us carry a balance month to month,” Gibbons said. “If that purchase is going to put you over the top and it’s not something you can pay off in a month or two, I wouldn’t do it.”

Come Up with a Shopping Strategy: There are a number of resources out there specifically made to save you money, regardless of the season. Look to coupon codes and price comparison sites if you’re shopping online.  There are also apps and credit card programs, like Citi’s Price Rewind program, that refunds you the difference of what you buy and register with them within a month up to $250.  “They’re saying the average refund is coming in at about $80 right now,” she said.

Depend on Discount Retailers: Flash sale sites can bee too fleeting for some, but discount stores like, Loehmann’s, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and more can give you the designer goods and housewares you desire at a budget that doesn’t break the bank. “We’re seeing [discount stores] really upping the ante on the high end goods and some really god name designers are coming into these stores,” Gibbons explained. “You’re also able to find plenty of housewares all in one place at these types of stores, which makes one-stop shopping easier.”

Need a little help on last-minute details? Check out some of our other drink and decor advice: 8 Holiday Cocktails to stir Up, Holiday How To: Set the Table, 6 Creative Ways to Decorate Your Tree, Tips and Tricks for Wrapping Your Gifts, and Holiday How To: 5 Tips to Deck Your Halls This Winter