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Holiday shopping made easy

Shopping plus overextending your credit = fighting.  Don’t let this happen to your relationship.  Have a frank talk before even thinking of what you want to buy for people.  Here’s what you should discuss:

  • An overall budget for the holiday.  How much can you reasonably afford to spend on presents, entertaining, and the general miscellany without purchasing on credit?
  • A budget for entertaining.  Are you hosting a party or a holiday meal?  Put together a realistic budget for it.  Don’t let your pride prevent you from entertaining.  Ask your friends and family to bring a dish or some beverages.
  • A budget for presents.  You’ll need to know how much you can spend overall (again, put nothing on credit) and then individual budgets for presents.  It’s more fair to say, “everyone ten and under gets a $10 present” than to say “my nephew deserves a $50 present while your niece deserves a $10 present”.  Opt to eliminate whole categories (i.e., no present for cousins, no presents for adults) than individual people.
  • Discuss deferring purchasing presents for each other until Valentine’s Day.
  • A budget for general miscellany.  You’re going to want to celebrate a little so include that into your budget.  At some point you’re going to be too tired to cook and want to order a pizza – include that in your budget.
  • Do not use your credit cards – it’s financial suicide.   Putting yourself into debt for years to afford one holiday is ridiculous.  People love you, not your money or your ability to give presents.
  • Shop early and use the layaway system instead of your credit cards.
  • Starting January, save for the next holiday season rather than paying off your debt from this one.  Or shop throughout the year to defray the holiday crush.
  • Comparison shop online but remember, if you buy online, you’re paying for shipping (this is worthwhile if you would have to mail the package anyhow).
  • Remember, a present is something you give freely and with no expectation of reciprocation.  It is the recipient’s right to break it within 5 minutes of receiving it.
  • Stick to the rules and do not argue with your significant other over a presents.  It’s not worth the argument.

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