Keep your holiday shopping simple

Have a plan and enjoy the season!

Every year the holiday season seems to sneak up on us. For many, this leads to over-spending, frenzied shopping and un-wanted stress. This year, create a new tradition! Develop a shopping plan that is realistic and achievable.

Create a shopping list and corresponding budget or spending plan. Once complete, review it carefully. Is this realistic and affordable? If not, where can you make changes? Consider the following when making your list:

  • Compare your needs versus your wants: Do you need to scale back some of your holiday commitments? Do you need to make changes to your holiday shopping list, and if you don’t, what will be the consequences? What is a comfortable financial shopping limit for your holiday budget?
  • When shopping in-person: Time is a commodity so variables such as traffic, weather, long lines and limited stock should be taken into account. To help you stick to your budget, consider bringing your own snacks and beverages to reduce the temptation to eat out.

(Tip: To save time and fuel costs, call stores to confirm that desired items are actually in stock).

  • When shopping online: Take into account shipping costs and the U.S. Postal Service’s shipping deadlines. In addition, use caution with shopping apps that request a lot of personal information and be sure to save all pertinent information in regards to your purchase (i.e. order number, refund and return policies, shipping costs, warranties, tracking numbers, etc.).

(Tip: To make the most of your time, consider visiting websites that compare prices in your area for items sold in stores and online).

  • Be cautious of holiday scams. Visit the Top holiday scams” article.
  • Have you forgotten anything in your holiday budget? It is easy to forget things like cards, stamps, wrapping paper, travel costs, eating out and higher grocery bills. All of these things add up quickly. 

When finalizing your shopping list, don’t forget the importance of creativity. Many families incorporate the following to help them stick to their holiday budgets: i.e. host a potluck, draw names for gift giving, make gifts, set monetary limits on gifts, or play gift swapping games that use in-expensive gifts. 

Develop your shopping plan, stick to your budget, and enjoy your holiday! 

Michigan State University Extension offers financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy. For more information of classes in your area, please visit either the MSU Extension events page or MI Money Health website. Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health. 

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