‘Tis the season for special treats, heavy sweaters, and scented candles (Eucalyptus has always been my personal favorite all-season scent). Autumn, fall, or harvest season, whichever you like to call it, is also generally the time to start thinking about the holidays and holiday gift giving.
This past year has been extremely difficult for many of us, and this holiday season may feel a bit different to most. As we prepare to head to the stores to find those perfect gifts for our family members, here are just a few strategies I like to think about before heading out.
How much do you want to spend?
Okay, the word “budget” does not have to have a negative connotation associated with it. I feel like whenever the word budget gets mentioned, people automatically think it’s synonymous with broke. However, creating a budget allows you to tell your money that you’ve worked hard for, what it will do for you rather than it telling you what to do.
I like to think about what I spent last year and how I felt about it after the holidays in determining this year’s holiday budget. Did I spend too much? What if anything was returned? Did my kids enjoy their toys or were there any one-and-done type of gifts? These are just a few of the questions I ask myself when determining what to buy and how much I should spend.
The holidays are so much more than gifts. It feels great just celebrating one another, especially this year when we have so much to be thankful for. I learned a long time ago that it isn’t about how much you spend on a gift that really matters.
Just a couple of years ago, my youngest son had more fun playing with the boxes the gifts came in than he did with the actual gifts, and my oldest was only interested in one particular gift and barely noticed the rest. My sister has only worn the pearls I gave her once, and my husband still has his Timberlake boots on a shelf in his closet. Other than thinking he’d look cute wearing them, I knew they weren’t his style.
Cash or credit card?
Paying with cash has many benefits, as it can help you stick to a budget. But that leaves out online deals. Whether you choose to pay with cash or card, you don’t have to end the holiday with a debt hangover.
I typically don’t carry cash around when holiday shopping for many reasons, but I do have enough cash to cover my holiday spending. If you do decide to buy with a credit card, take advantage of any cashback deals, as they add up and you can use that money for necessities. Another benefit I’ve found in using credit is if I purchase an item within a certain time frame and that item goes on sale shortly after, I can get a refund for the difference.
Credit card or debit?
Unfortunately, holidays are prime times for scammers and fraudsters. In addition to safeguarding my information while shopping online, I stay away from using my debit card as much as possible either online or out and about. Debit cards are, of course, linked directly to your checking account, and it’s sometimes more difficult and more of a hassle to dispute transactions on these cards than it is with credit disputes.
With supply constraints and price increases sure to cause a shortage of bargains this year, I plan to remember the most important thing this holiday is free of charge. I’ll be hugging my family extra tight while creating more memories.