by Dave Ramsey
We’ve all paid the “stupid tax,” making costly decisions with zeros on the end. And a lot of those decisions happen when we’re caught up in the emotion of the Christmas season and procrastinate a little too long. Make this year different than before!
Here are the top 10 Christmas shopping mistakes and how you can act differently:
1. Not prioritizing.
Instead of getting stressed out with all the parties, baking and shopping in addition to your normal daily life, set some priorities before you’re bombarded with a million requests. Think about what things are “must do” and which are “would be nice to do.” It’s all right to say no to keep yourself sane. Shopping for gifts is more fun when you’re not completely stressed out.
2. Not having a budget written down.
Before you make a gift list and head to the mall, set aside a reasonable amount of money for gifts. Make a commitment that you won’t add $20 to the fund just because you saw something cute that your niece would love.
3. Using credit cards.
Once you have your budgeted amount of money, stay away from credit cards! You will still spend 12-18% more if you use plastic and you’ll be paying it off come next year! Doesn’t paying with cash and going on about your day sound more relaxing than having a credit card balance looming over your head through the holidays? You betcha.
4. Buying for everyone.
Do you really need to buy gifts for every family member and friend you have? That can get overwhelming and expensive for everyone. Talk with them about this and work toward an agreement to draw names for gifts or donate money to a common cause.
5. Not listening.
Listen to the hints your loved ones drop about what they need or want this year. Maybe your Aunt Sally mentioned in July that she would love someone to help her in the garden or cousin Bob keeps losing guitar picks. A thoughtful gift like this will mean a lot to the person.
6. Not having a thought-out list on paper.
If you think you can spend time in “Christmas retail world” and not get distracted by all the shiny toys, you’re in for a big surprise! You’ll be more likely to buy impulsively if you do it that way. Write down what each person you’re buying for would like and stick to the list. Stay focused!
7. Not shopping around.
“Shopping around” doesn’t mean you have to spend 24 extra hours running from store to store to save 10 cents. Take a look at your gift list and do some comparative price-checking online before you head out into the retail and traffic madness. This will save you money, time and stress!
8. Waiting until the last minute.
Giving the gift of procrastination is not the most appealing gift out there. Don’t find yourself stressed out on Christmas Eve just because you didn’t invest a little bit of time to plan.
9. Forgetting to plan for next year.
Be on the lookout for outrageous sales on things your loved ones will need throughout the next year. If you time the sales just right and clip some coupons, you could land a major discount on something you were going to buy in a few months for a birthday or wedding gift. Remember to have a list and budget for this, too.
10. Forgetting why we celebrate.
If this season becomes all about shopping and gifts, you’ve missed the whole point. People—not things—matter. The miraculous birth of a baby who changed the world is what matters.
Taken with permission from www.DaveRamsey.com.