Although it seems like Halloween was just yesterday, it's clear holiday shopping is already in full swing. Surveys say you're expected to spend big bucks—upwards of $800 on others and another $100 on yourself—this season. How do you make sure you don't go into debt doing it? Make a gift-buying plan before
you hit the stores.
- Decide how much you—personally—can afford to spend this holiday season on gifts.
- List the names of everyone you'll be shopping for.
- Write down the dollar amount you'd like to spend on a gift next to each person's name.
- Estimate the cost of cards, wrapping and postage.
- Add it all up. If your expenses are already over budget, trim until you're in range.
Finally, use the Internet to get a good sense of what you can buy for each person. Only then should you actually go shopping.
And one last tip: If your budget is truly minimal for whatever reason, make a charitable contribution in honor of your friends and family. They'll get an acknowledgement of the gift from the charity but they don't have to know how much—or little—you gave.