Once again, I am dealing with the problem of shopping for others, without buying things for us adding to our debt.  Put another way, I seem to buy more for me when I am looking for gifts for others.  I know it is a horrible habit, but as an undiagnosed ADD victim, I constantly get distracted and put things in the cart that are not gifts, but are for me.  I know online retailers know about this trait in many of us, because their ads constantly remind us to “find everything on your list and get a little something for yourself”. 

I caught myself doing it twice last week.  I already returned one of the items.  The other was in an online auction, so I will be keeping it.  I really need to combat this habit, if I want to be debt free in 2020.  Since I do really want to change my shopping habits, I took a step back and made a plan for the rest of my holiday shopping this season.  I think these steps can save money on my Christmas shopping:

  1. Make a list and check it twice.  Maybe Santa has this double shopping issue too?  Anyway, I have this excel sheet – stop laughing, it helps.  So, I put the names and gift ideas AND budget on the excel list.  As usual, when I wait this late to buy Christmas gifts, I tend to panic and overspend.  So, I revisited my list to remind myself what I planned to buy for whom.  Mantra to self: Chill more and spend less.
  2. Look up coupon codes before checkout.  I like choosing the items or service I will purchase before I find the coupon.  That helps me to focus on what I think I should give to someone, instead of what is on sale that I could give to someone.  I find I actually make better purchase decisions if I follow this order when I make my selections.  But looking up coupon codes before final checkout can save bonus money, so it is usually worth the extra clicks.
  3. Experience vs. Element.  Open our perspective to new gifting options.  Many of our friends told us to not buy more stuff.  They prefer experiences, and they prefer to share those experiences with us.  As a result, there is less to wrap, but we will be headed out for more events soon, such as to play a round of Whirlyball (an insane combination of lacrosse, basketball, hockey and bumper cars) or a day at a toboggan run.  If I survive, I will let you know how those turn out.
  4. Remember Why.  If your family or group have chosen to exchange gifts, keep in mind the purpose of the exchange.  That euphoric feeling of giving the BEST GIFT EVER only lasts until you realize the moment is over, and now you have to make sure the purchase didn’t take money needed for bills or something else. Stop the insanity and make life a little more fun for all involved.  Remembering the purpose of the gift can help you let go of obsessing over getting an impressive gift and make it more an expression of friendship, or respect or love, depending on that purpose. 

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have to go bake 72 dozen cookies for an exchange party this week, and then decorate them!  I am so not meant for this, but I committed back when it seemed possible.  And if the holidays have pushed you over the edge of debt, remember you can find the help you need by visiting DebtReliefZones.com.  Friendly professionals can match your needs to a debt counselor near you to figure out your options for 2020 debt freedom.