The average American spends around $1,047 on Christmas shopping every year. Your average expenses are bound to more or less than that, but whatever you intend to spend, this amount must fall within your means.

There are a few ways to make sure you set up and stick to a Christmas shopping budget you can afford.

These are our top tips for Christmas shopping on a budget.

  1. Create a Budget

So many of us head out at the last minute, credit card in hand, to complete our Christmas shopping in one fell swoop. This almost always results in overspending and poorly thought-out purchases.

The best way to combat this is by setting up a spending limit for each person on your list. If you save on one person’s gifts, you can allocate that saving to someone else.

Remember to set aside some money for other expenses like wrapping paper, gift bags, and other holiday incidentals like extra-special meals and seasonal recipes. Don’t forget to include that inevitable office Secret Santa expense in your budget.

  1. Spread the Expenses Out

There are two ways to spread out your Christmas shopping expenses. One way is to shop for one person on your list every month. Keep your ears peeled in conversation with them and you might get some gift ideas for the holiday season.

The danger with this is that they might buy the item for themselves before Christmas rolls around, so try to stick to consumables like perfumes, non-perishable treats, and toiletries or cosmetics.

Another way is to set aside money towards your Christmas expenses every month. That way, you’ll have enough saved up to have a very festive season and buy all the gifts you need at the annual sales.

Prepare to cut down on a few monthly luxuries to make room in your budget for Christmas savings. Going without that extra cup of coffee or spa day is so worth it when you think about all the anxiety you’ll save yourself.

  1. Hunt for Deals All Year Round

Holiday sales like Black Friday aren’t the only times you can pick up huge savings. There are sales in every month of the year.

You’ll also find most stores offer discounts on less popular or overstocked items at random times. Walmart Clearance items become available daily and Amazon also has regular online deals.

  1. Sign Up for Savings Alerts

There are three main ways to stay up to date with all the latest discounts from your favorite stores.

You can sign up for newsletters and flyers from your preferred outlets and download apps that advise you of sales as they happen.

Otherwise, go the regular route by setting up Google alerts for sought-after items or notifications from major outlets.

  1. Use Google’s New Shopping Tool

There’s another way to make use of the all-seeing powers of the search engine to track price drops across the internet. Here’s how:

  • Search for your desired item on Google
  • Click the shopping tab to see results for the item you want
  • Pick one you like
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and toggle the ”track price” button to ”on

Now you’ll receive an alert every time that specific item goes on sale, no matter where it is. You can delete your tracking request on Google’s ”my activity” page.

  1. Online Christmas Shopping on a Budget

Thanks to a topsy-turvy year, many stores have extended their sales and are offering more online savings than ever before.

Now, with the sales lasting almost all through November and well into December, you’ve got so many extra chances to save on your holiday shopping.

Remember, Amazon isn’t the only place offering savings this season, be sure to compare prices on Walmart, eBay, and specialty stores too.

If you haven’t worked on saving all year, you’ll be able to split the costs over two paychecks and have the chance to pick up more special offers than ever before.

Add to that the convenience and safety of online shopping and there’s really no better way to spend your money this year.

  1. Make a Shopping List

It’s easy to get sidetracked whether you’re shopping online or in-store. Who can resist those huge placards advertising massive discounts on every second item, right?

Make a shopping list of items you want to buy for every person on your list and stick to it.

If you’re shopping at one of the big sales, like Black Friday, be sure to head for the biggest most popular discounted items first. These will top hits will sell out first, so be sure to get there as quickly as you can.

That said, it’s a good idea to have a Plan B for each person on your list too. If you can’t get one item you can go to the next one on your list.

Sometimes shopping with a well-disciplined friend can help you cover more ground faster. They can head for one aisle to pick up a sought-after item, while you focus on the next thing on your list.

Besides, in stressful situations, two heads are always better than one.

We all have that one friend who likes to live on the edge and make impulsive decisions, that friend isn’t the ideal sales shopping partner.

  1. Leave the Credit Card at Home

If you’ve budgeted all year round for your Christmas splurge, you’ll easily avoid having to crack into your credit this December. If not, rather stick to a modest budget and try again next year.

The best way to stick to your Christmas shopping list on a budget and avoid running up extensive debt is to use cash only for your in-store purchases. Leave your credit cards and store cards at home so you can avoid the temptation to overspend.

Have a Merrier Christmas This Year

The biggest benefit of Christmas shopping on a budget is never having to worry about the crushing debt that can result from last-minute shopping.

Use these tips to ensure you experience the true joy of giving this season without the stress.

Browse some more of our blog articles for other useful tips on negotiating life’s challenges.

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