Don’t Do Panic Shopping

Two more days until Christmas, and lots of people are still finishing up their holiday shopping.  There is nothing wrong with shopping up until the holiday itself; you can find some great bargains that way.  However, it is important to make sure that you stick to smart shopping strategies even as time is ticking away.

First, keep track of your spending plan.  Have an idea how much you are willing to spend for each person, and be aware of your spending as you go along.  Whether you stick to it carefully is up to you, but be sure to think before exceeding your pre-planned limit.  Which brings me to…

Second, keep track of what you are buying!  This might be easy for some of you, but my brain isn’t as agile as it used to be.  It is essential that I keep a detailed list of everything that I have bought, plus the location where I have stashed it.  My poor husband spent some time today searching for gifts that I know I have purchased but can not find.  He also had to remind me of some things that I have purchased but had forgotten.

Third, remember that spending more is not a solution for not having ideas.  I have one family member who is always guilty of this.  I know that he means well, but it makes me uncomfortable.  I would rather have no gifts from him than receive many extravagant but generic items.

Fourth, don’t allow disorganization or peer pressure make you do silly things.  I did some silly spending just last night.  I was going to an event, and was instructed to bring one unwrapped ornament.  As I dashed through the convenience store (yes, really), I grabbed four lovely but inexpensive ornaments and a gift bag.  I didn’t want to feel cheap.  When I arrived at the event, I reached over to get my gift bag full of ornaments and noticed that there was another really lovely ornament already waiting there (another exchange -what is with all these exchanges?)  I used it instead of my four quickie mart ornaments and was very happy.  I now have four pretty but relatively useless ornaments and another gift bag to add to my collection.  What a waste of $15!  In a sane world, I would have either remembered about the ornament already in my car, or utilized one of the many beautiful spare ornaments we already own.

Lastly, don’t panic!  Christmas will not be ruined if you fail to get someone the perfect gift.  Think for a minute:  can you even remember all the gifts you received last year?  Probably not.  Can you remember the people with whom you were able to spend time?  Much more likely.  It’s not about the presents!

If you still have shopping to do, take a few minutes to review your lists and your spending plan before heading out.  Once you are in the shops, don’t go crazy.  If you can’t find the right thing for someone, don’t buy anything at all, or buy something small.  Try to remember the important parts about the holidays without getting swept up by all the gift-giving hype.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.