5 Easy Budgeting Tips to Keep Holiday Shopping Under Control

Congratulations – if you are reading this and you are already finished with your holiday shopping, you can stop reading right now.

If, however, you are still in the throes, or maybe you haven’t even started, here are 5 tips to help you keep your credit card spending under control during this frenzied time and not end up with a shopping hangover come January.

Harvey Z. Warren is a credit expert and author of “Drop Debt: Surviving Credit Card Hell without Bankruptcy” (Greenleaf Book Group LLC, August 1, 2010, 978-1929774920). His website is www.askdoctordebt.com where he offers help with credit and debt questions and issues.

Here are his 5 tips:
Make a list and set the price you want to pay for each person- also known as “a budget.” A $15 budget for your niece goes out the door when you find a cute purse for $50. That slip might be ok for one person on your list but if you have 30 people to shop for, Warren says, you’ll find yourself in big trouble very quickly if you go over for everyone.

“Whether you are naughty or nice, impulse buying is what gets most holiday shoppers into trouble,” says Warren.

Wrap up your credit card. Warren says just like when you put a picture on your refrigerator of an out-of-shape person to remind you about your diet, if you wrap up your credit card with a plastic sleeve, it may make you think twice before spending.

“The only thing more dangerous to your well being than a fat belly is a stress inducing fat balance that you cannot pay,” he says.

Give gifts that keep on giving. He particularly likes books because knowledge stays with a person unlike the latest Xbox game or a doll.

“The knowledge that you have put in a loved one’s head is going to continue to serve and bring value to them,” he says.

Make it personal. Make something by hand such as a cake or cookies to give. Warren notes how beautiful a gift is from food mailer Harry & David so why not make your own beautiful gift of food? You’ll save money and your loved one will understand how much you care about them.

“There is something so beautiful and so appropriate for the season in baking a cake or cookies or some other fantastic treat that can be shared and enjoyed by the entire family,” Warren says.

Make a small charitable donation to your favorite cause in someone’s name. With a small $10 donation, you can help someone else in need while controlling your spending and making others feel good.

“That’s a better plan than another striped necktie or argyle socks. Whatever you choose to give, give it from your heart with the certain knowledge that it really is the thought – not the price tag – that counts,” he says.

So, while Warren warns you must be careful if you’re still paying for last year’s holiday shopping or even the year before, he isn’t being a Scrooge about spending. Be smart and do what your budget and income affords for you. It really is the thought that counts, not the price tag.