This year, I had a brilliant scheme for affording the holidays – I would sell a violin and a synthesizer that have just been collecting dust in my closet by using Craigslist and Kijiji and underwrite all my Christmas shopping. At least, I thought it would be brilliant.
I expected the $200 in cold hard cash would go a long way this Christmas. It lasted about two stores. I can’t help it, call me giving, a bonafide Christmas elf, but the truth is, I just didn’t really pay much attention to what I was spending.
Like the 1,500 Canadian respondents to CIBC’s annual holiday spending survey that plan to spend $517 this holiday season, I went into it with a budget. But the truth is, it’s hard to keep track of when get caught up in the festivity of it all. The songs! The children’s laughter (and occasional scream from mall Santa’s fake beard)! The gentle cadence of my girlfriend begging me to put up the tree on the 1st of November! It all leads to the tendency to overspend.
After all, 30 per cent of Canadians aged 13 to 34 said they would go over budget to get that perfect gift. Of the 55-and-older crowd, 12% admitted they would.
Sure, staying on track with your holiday spending is partially discipline but there’s got to be more than that. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the madness of holiday shopping at malls. So here’s how I’m going to keep tabs on the remainder of my budget:
1: Shop Online
That’s right. No more sly salespeople tricking me into those wonderful gift boxes or in-store wrapping. Plus, things are usually cheaper online, especially when you’re dealing with the big box stores like an Indigo or a Canadian Tire. Most of these retail outlets include the shipping costs directly in the in-store prices.
2: Compare Prices
If I do decide to leave my digital sanctuary and go out into the real world to buy gifts, I’m going to compare the prices online before I pull the trigger on an in-store purchase using my smartphone. In fact, before I even leave the house I’m going to make a list of what I need to get and compare prices.
3.Use Loyalty Cards
I plan to put as many purchases as possible, even the small ones on my reward cards. You might as well get while giving right?
4. Find coupons
I’ve never been much of a couponer but I’m willing to eschew my pride for money in my pockets by doing a little googling for coupons and discount codes for the items I’m looking to buy.
So don’t expect see me back out there unprepared this year. Yep, round two will be different. Oh, and on an unrelated note, if you’re looking to buy a synthesizer, you know where to find me.