5 Important Considerations when Christmas Shopping

As Christmas quickly approaches, many of us scramble to finish or even start our shopping. For some, this is an enjoyable activity done on time each year and for others, not so much.

Here are five important considerations when Christmas shopping:

  1. Consider the recipient’s taste, style and personality. Remember to weigh heavily what this person would like (not necessarily what you would like). Does the recipient have a hobby or favorite activity? Are they an active person who likes the outdoors or a homebody who loves to cook? Do they love books? Self improvement? Like to spend an afternoon doing spa activities at home? Make a list of the things you know that they like and don’t like. Then sit back and review the list. You can utilize web searches to get ideas.
  2. Consider what is going on in the life of the recipient. Are they working a lot of hours? Visiting family more than usual due to illness? Make sure that the gift you select will fit into what is going on in their life. If they love experiences but are just too busy, maybe get them an experience gift only if you can also help them with their day-to-day so they can go and enjoy it. It is great to give somebody a gift that they would love but if they don’t have the time to enjoy it, it can put more focus on what they are dealing with at that point in time. You may want to adjust your ideas based on their present situation.
  3. Consider your own personality. Gifts are very personal items. While you should purchase the gift with the recipient in mind, something way out of character from you would seem, well…odd. The gift should reflect your personality and your relationship to some extent.
  4. Consider your budget. When you sit down to consider various ideas for a gift, don’t leave out the money piece. You need to revisit your holiday budget. Don’t have a budget? Spend some time, sit down and make a list of all the people you are buying for and give some thought to numbers 1, 2 and 3 above. In that context, assign an amount to the item(s). When you go shopping, stick to the budgeted amount. Sometimes when shopping you’ll find the gift you want to buy, but it is much more than your original intention to spend.  That is when you need to step back and find another option. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your gift idea, but find another way to do it.
  5. Consider what is going on in your life. Once you have made your list and set your budget, you should shop for the gift. What time constraints do you have? Typically if you have more time, you can go to a physical storefront and look for bargains.  If you are pressed for time, consider shopping online as shopping in the store when pressed for time typically results in overspending. Online coupons can be found and used to stay within or spend under budget. Many websites have free shipping as well. As it gets closer to Christmas, be aware of deadlines for shipping so that packages will arrive on time for the big day.

The Christmas holiday will go as quickly as it came so make a commitment to start planning on the 26th.  Set a budget for the following year and fit a plan to pay for it into your budget. Pick up Christmas clearance while you can at reduced prices.  One year I purchased an entire Christmas china set with service for 15 for $20 representing 70% off. That was over twenty-five years ago and I still pull out that china to use for Christmas dinner every year.

Christmas is a predictable event in that it happens at the same time every year. Even if you didn’t plan this year, you can change all that in just a few short weeks.

How do you approach Christmas shopping? Share your tips in the comments section.  Happy Holidays!

My Money Story

My earliest memory of money revolves around my mother repeatedly telling me to save my money.  I did as she asked because, as with most small children, what your mother tells you is just true.  You don’t question what she tells you.

During most of my childhood I kept saving.  My mother was so proud of me.  She called me her little saver.  At some point it was time to spend some of the money.  I didn’t want to spend it.  I refused.  After all, mom said to save it so I struggled to let go.

After a couple of these episodes my mother encouraged me to spend the money.  She said there was no point in saving it if I never was going to spend it.  So I did what I was told.  I spent it.

It’s probably obvious to you now that I grew up quite conflicted about money.  Save it or spend it?  I could see why it was good to spend it but why save it? We never spoke about why I should save.

This back and forth behavior continued until my early twenties.  I took a job that kept me traveling with a group of colleagues early in my career.  My colleagues were men in their forties while I was a twenty year old female.  Conversations were frequent about money, investments and retirement and piqued my interest.  I decided at that point that I needed to learn about money.  After all I had nothing to contribute to the conversation without learning about it.  Those colleagues did me the biggest favor by having those conversations and getting me interested in the topic.

Fast forward to today and I am a CPA working in private industry as a Finance Director. Along the way I have learned the practical aspects of money: budgeting, saving, insurance, planning, investing and most importantly, putting my history in front of me and accepting how it affects who I am and how I do things today.

My goal with this blog is to share what I have learned with those of you who want to make changes to help improve your money knowledge and put that knowledge into action.

No matter how much knowledge you have, each of us is on a journey in life, including a financial journey.  Money touches everything in our lives so how can we not want to improve how we manage it?

I started with my beginning since that shaped how I view money.  How did you first learn about money?  What is your money story?