How many times have you gone into a store intending to buy just one particular item and walked out with five bags of stuff? Did you have a written list when you went in the store? Probably not. But I had a list in my head, you say. Maybe so, but the final total was a lot larger than you expected, right?
If you dread a repeat of that scenario, there's no need to stress. There's still time to prevent it! The following three steps will help you be a smarter shopper and go home with some money still in your wallet.
Get a Game Plan.
It's pretty stupid to head out to the mall or any other store without a game plan—a budget. Don't think you have to carry around a five-page printed budget as you shop. But a little planning ahead will help you shop smart.
Write down the specific amount of money you'd like to spend on gifts this season. There is no magical dollar amount; it's going to be different for each individual and family. Think about what's realistic for you. Know your limit and stick to it!
Make a List and Check It Twice.
By having a gift list in your head, you're just setting yourself up to spend more. Take the time to write down exactly who you want to buy for and what you want to buy. Look over your list multiple times and compare the gifts with the amount of money you'd like to spend. When everything matches up, you're ready to shop with a purpose!
Flash the Cash!
Before you hit the stores, stop by the ATM. Withdraw the specific amount of cash you allotted yourself to spend on Christmas gifts. Now that you have cash in hand, you'll know when it runs out. When the cash is gone, stop spending! Do not pull out the plastic or swing by the ATM six more times!
When you pay with cash, don't be afraid to ask for a deal. Most people don't get deals when they're shopping because they either don't pay with cash or are too afraid to ask! What's the worst thing that could happen? They might say no. Big deal. At least you tried!
Whoever said you had to buy tons and tons of presents for people anyway? Enjoying gifts and shopping is fine, as long as you stay within your financial boundaries. Make a point to not put gifts and pleasing others above more important things in your life, such as spending time with loved ones, being in control of your money, and getting out of debt.