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You know you are getting old when the holidays do not bring you the same joy anymore. We reach a certain age wherein the gift giving season is no longer met with enthusiasm for the new things that we will receive. Instead, you meet it with a sense of dread because of the expenses that you know you will have to bear.
Well you do not have to ruin the season because you can put yourself through a frugal holiday challenge. The goal this season is to give as much as you can to family, friends and co-workers without spending more than the budget that you will set for yourself. It may seem impossible but not when you plan for it. In fact, the key to control holiday spending is to make sure that you have planned and prepared before acting on it.
Shoppers are serious about cutting back on holiday spending
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are seriously trimming their holiday budgets to help keep themselves from holiday debt. A frugal holiday is not about giving cheap gifts, it is taking more time to think about what gift will be the most valuable for the recipient.
The NRF.com news release last October 16 mentioned that consumers are now more cautious than ever in their shopping techniques. This survey happened during a time when the economy is still full of uncertainties. Based on the survey, the NRF forecasted that consumers will be a little more conservative when it comes to their holiday shopping this 2013.
Here are the highlights of this report.
The average holiday shopper expects to spend around $737.95 - lower by 2% compared to the average in 2012 which was at $752.24. This is to be spent on gifts, decors and other holiday-related expenses.
29% of survey respondents indicated that their shopping behavior will be influenced by the government shutdown and debt ceiling issues. 32.7% of people within the ages of 55 and 64 years of age believe that their holiday shopping will also be affected by these current economic conditions.
79.5% of holiday shoppers are determined to lower their holiday spending in 2013.
Self-giving is said to decline this year as survey results show that the average self giving budget is now $129.62. It went down from $140.43 in 2012 and $137.17 in 2011.
The bulk of gift giving will be devoted to the family with an average expected spending of $415.50 - which is slightly lower than $423.36 in 2012.
Gift giving beyond family members will reach $72.14 for friends and $23.59 for colleagues.
Food and candy allowance will average at $100.35, flowers at $21.12 and greeting cards at $28.03.
Shopping schedules based on the survey are as follows: 41.2% before Halloween, 38.8% in November, 16% during the first two weeks of December and 3.9% will wait until the last minute to shop.
Source: NRF survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics on 6,415 consumers between October 1-8, 2013.
Based on the details of this survey, frugal holiday shopping is strong in the minds of consumers this year. With the scare coming from the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, you can’t really blame them for trying to enjoy the season without crippling their bank accounts. In fact, the survey further notes how retail sales and discount schemes are helping consumers decide where to shop and what to give out as gifts - at least 35.6% of them.
Tips to make gift giving less expensive
The survey conducted by the NRF proves that frugal holiday planning is trending this season. So do not fret if you want to cut back on your holiday spending - everyone else will be doing it! We have not turned into a land of cheapskates but we are starting to be more financially responsible and practical too.
So how can you join this trend? Here are some steps that you can follow.
Use a budget. No financial planning is ever complete without a budget. Create a list of the one time expenses that you will spend on this holidays and add it up with the usual monthly expenses. Total the amount of income that you have and tap into your savings if you had been saving up for this season.
Set a budget amount for your one time expenses. List the names of the people you will give gifts to (from priority to the least). Make sure that you include costs for your travel, meals or any other expense that you will make while shopping.
Research for sales, discounts and deals. Do you research online but prioritize the ones that you can get from your local store. It’s great to get a discount from an online store but if you have to spend so much on shipping, the discount might be wasted. Also, it is better to be able to see the item before buying it - that way you can check it for defects, etc.
Schedule your shopping escapades. Try to group together shopping errands to save on gas and to time it with promo events. Also, make sure that you stick to the plan without buying anything extra for yourself just because something is on sale.
Take advantage of any freebies. Be on the lookout for freebies because this will save you a lot. Some people fail to notice that gift wrapping are sometimes free in certain retail stores. This will end up saving you some significant amount of money so do not ignore them.
See what you can recycle as a gift. Sometimes, there are gifts given to you that you do not need anymore. You may want to consider giving them to someone who you know will enjoy it more than you. Just be careful who you will give it to.
It helps to use a holiday budget calculator to help you keep track of what you are allowed to spend. We found a great online calculator on PracticalMoneySkills.com. You can list your budget for gifts, food and even travel. You can pattern your budget template on this and add or remove details as you see fit.
Gift ideas you can make at home
If you really want to save yourself from holiday debt, you may want to start thinking about gift ideas that you can make at home. You don’t have to worry about beating the holiday rush if you create your own gifts. There are so many things that you can do and we have divided the recipients of your gifts into groups.
For the family
First on your list are probably your family members. For your spouse or partner, a great idea is to come up with coupons of services that you can do for them. For instance, one coupon entitles them to a free massage or a week-long of free dish washing.
For your children, one idea is to melt all their small crayon stubs to create one big crayon that you can form into their favorite shape. Add a coloring book and it should be a great new drawing tool for them. You can also make their own personal soap shaped like a toy or something that they will love to use. Or you can create a toy box for them - if you have the carpentry skills at least.
Finding gifts for friends can be generic or it can be something unique for each of them. One great idea is to bake them some cupcakes or cookies, put it in a plastic container and secure it with a ribbon. That should be a great gift for them. Or you can also make the service coupon. Give your couple friends with a babysitting or a lawn mowing coupon that they can claim once a week. It should be fun to do things for your friends.
Another great idea is a small calendar with photos of you and your friends that you can layout creatively and print in color. Tie them together with a ribbon and give it to friends to use in the office or their home.
Anything that you think they can use in the office should be a great idea for a gift. A place to put their phone or pens is a great idea. Or you can buy coffee mugs in bulk and decorate them uniquely based on the recipient. If you really want to be economical about it, go to the local beach and pick up cute shells or go to the park to look for decorative stones. If you are the arts and crafts type, you can probably decorate these to be a paperweight for your office mates.
Here is video from Money Talks News about tips on what you should not buy this November.