We love this time of year.  The Pohutakawas (NZ Christmas tree) are starting to bloom and for us in New Zealand it signals the start of summer.   The school year is all but finished which means the summer holidays are beckoning with images of sun, beaches, mountains or maybe it’s fishing for you.

And then there’s a very special day to look forward to, Christmas Day.

So much to look forward to!

Christmas Day itself is great, although getting prepared for it can be a stressful time for a lot of families.  There is so much to do and so little time!  Food to prepare, presents to buy, housework to do so the house looks spick & span for the family gathering.  Is it me that leaves that job to the last minute…

To make life a little easier we’ve put together 5 tips that can make your shopping a little less stressful.

#1. Start with a Christmas gift list.

Lists don’t appeal to everyone but this doesn’t have to be an onerous task.  Before you head out to tackle the shops (or go online), have a tea (or coffee or water) and as you savour the flavour, make a list of who you want to buy for.

Jot down any gift ideas you have.  If you have no idea yet, at least writing the name on a piece of paper will help you spot things as you are looking around.  If you’re stuck for ideas, why not ask the rest of the family and see what they come up with.

#2. Set a spending limit.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a per person limit.  It might be your total shopping allowance and you spread it around the number of gifts you want to buy.  You don’t have to spend exactly the same on everyone or spend to the limit you have set.  If you find an amazing gift for $20 and you allowance is $30 that is great, as the next gift might be $40.  It‘s not how much you spend per gift that is important, it is the thought that goes into it.

#3. Don’t shop when you are stressed.

This applies to both online and shopping in real shops.  When you are stressed, you will make snap decisions and let emotion rather than logic make the buying decision.  The result is that you’ll end up spending more.

On the other hand, don’t be too relaxed either.  Doing your Christmas shopping online while relaxing in bed or the bath, may be bliss but if you are too relaxed you are also likely to spend more.

And instead of thinking about price, you get carried away with the product itself and research shows that you could spend up to 15% more.  It is also not a great idea to go Christmas shopping after your staff party either.

#4. Try not to use credit cards.

In other words don’t use credit cards unless you are sure you can pay 100% of the bill in January.  Credit cards separate the pain of paying with the pleasure of buying and it is too easy to hand over the plastic and lose track of how much you have actually spent.

#5. Don’t get caught up by ‘Specials’.  

Stick to your original intent.  At this time of year there are plenty of deals like, “buy one, get the second half price” or “spend $80.00 and get the free gift.”  Before succumbing to these types of offers, take a deep breath, count to 10 and give your rational brain time to kick in.

Your emotions have a 10 second head start on logic, so before you grab the extra gift to push you over the $80 threshold, make sure it is a purchase you really want to make.  Buyer’s remorse is no fun.  Just because it is on sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Now you’re ready.  You can now head out into the mayhem, cash in the wallet/purse and list in hand and know that you are able to have fun while finding those Christmas gifts – without the stress.

Oh, and don’t forget the wrapping paper and gift tags!

Meanwhile, if you are struggling to work out your own financial priorities or just have no idea what you are doing with your money and want to make some changes, then come and talk to us.  We help you achieve your financial goals by showing you how to build a money management system that is tailored to your needs and fits with your lifestyle.

When you are ready to talk, we are here to listen and help.  Drop us an email or click on this link to find a day and time that suits you to have a chat with us, we’re really very friendly.  Best of all – it’s free!