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5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Gift

What’s your plan when you head out to go Christmas shopping?

Do you sit down with your husband or wife and make a detailed Christmas budget? Or do you just wing it?

Once you have your Christmas budget, how can you make sure you stay within your means? How can you make sure you aren’t dealing with a Christmas debt hangover come January?

You need a plan for your holiday shopping. To create that plan, start asking yourself these questions before you walk to the checkout counter or add an item to your online cart:

Am I overdoing it?

Another way to ask this question is: will I regret buying this next month? The worst thing you can do during the Christmas season is to put yourself in debt to buy a gift. If you’re going into debt for Christmas, then you’re overdoing it—plain and simple.  Be reasonable. Your wife might love the SUV with the bow on top, until she realizes you’re both $40,000 in debt.

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Is this a genuine gift, or am I being passive aggressive?

For the love of all things, don’t be the husband who gives his wife a diet cookbook or a treadmill. And don’t be the mother-in-law who gives her daughter-in-law the new best-seller, 5 Ways to Be a Better Wife. If your plan is to give a passive-aggressive gift, it’s probably better just to give no gift at all.

Can I truly afford it?

It’s a similar question to the one above, and it’s purely practical. Let’s say you have a $200 Christmas budget. Can you afford that $250 necklace for your wife? No. You made a budget for a reason. Now stick to it!

Why am I buying this gift?

In other words, am I buying this because I feel obligated or because I really want to do something nice for the other person? If you’re buying out of obligation and simply going through the motions, maybe it’s time to take another look at your motives. If you’re stretched thin on your budget but still giving out of obligation, it’s time to reevaluate how many people are on your gift list.   

Is this gift really useful?

That’s a nice tie, but your brother wears ties once every ten years. And that birdfeeder? Your sister-in-law lives in a fifth-floor condo. If you’re just buying something to check off your list, then you’re buying out of obligation. Know the person who you are giving to, and know what would help make a difference—even a small one—in their life.

Be honest with yourself about your budget and your motives for giving this Christmas. Your budget and your stress level will thank you.

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