Today’s questions are, When do you start Christmas shopping? How do you budget for Christmas? Do you stick to your budget?
This year, we started our Christmas shopping over the summer–the earliest we’ve ever started! I’m usually one of the poor schleps finishing up last minute shopping ON Christmas Eve, but not this year! We made it a point to pick up various gifts when we saw them, so that we’d be well-prepared this year. Actually, before I left my job to freelance full time, I made it a point to pick up a good portion of gifts since we knew freelancing income is very unpredictable. And just my luck, on Columbus Day weekend last month, I happened to stumble upon the monster of all sales at my favorite outlet mall. Talk about good timing–I scored bags and bags of awesome presents for 75% off the sale price! That said, I’m so excited that almost all of my shopping is done for extended family!
As for budgeting, I always aim to spend a certain amount on each person. Like many people, I make my list, scour the sale papers, sale racks and outlet malls and stick to it. I never, ever buy anything unless it is on sale. If it’s not on sale, clearly I don’t need it In years past, my girlfriend and I always hit the Black Friday sales. My perspective on enduring that craziness has always been, if I could withstand the sanity of Penn Station at rush hour, I can stomach the craziness of Black Friday. If you have a plan and can deal with crowds, it’s totally worth the deals.
For the most part, we definitely stick to our budget. Because Christmas is more of a religious and family celebration for us, we definitely aren’t one of the families that focuses too much on the material aspect of it all. I can’t say we go overboard. As much as I love giving gifts, I try very hard to focus on being practical and as minimalist as possible. Gifts are nice, yes, but neither of us grew up receiving mounds of toys/gifts for the holidays. So even as tempting as it is to buy all the fun stuff we see, that’s not what the holidays are about.