MANILA - Do you always find yourself spending a lot more than you want to as you go on a last-minute Christmas shopping spree? That’s hardly surprising, considering that prices for gifts and just about everything else shoot up just as the holidays roll around.
Unfortunately, Christmas festivities and gift-giving almost always cause financial strains, which you can best avoid with forward planning.
In short, it’s not too early at all to start planning your gift list for Christmas 2017.
If you want to better manage your gift-giving, why don’t you start your shopping much earlier--even a year an advance? When you have time in your hands, you can do gift shopping at leisure, allowing you to pick well thought-out gifts without squeezing your cash flow.
Here are some tips on how you can do holiday shopping in advance:
1. Early in the year, list down the names of people who you would like to give gifts to. Then, think about what possible gifts you can give them, taking into consideration their preferences and personalities. Create a spreadsheet where you can put the names of people and possible gift choices for each of them.
2. Decide on a budget for each of the persons in your list. This is a helpful guide in your search for suitable gifts that your recipient will appreciate and have use for. Having an individual budget for each person is also a good way to manage your entire shopping budget. It lets you know where you can make adjustments as well.
3. Buy gifts throughout the year when your budget permits, using the list as a guide. This will help you manage your cash flow and spread gift expenses throughout the year, instead of one fell swoop. For instance, you can get a gift for one family member this month, then shop for another loved one the following month. If you have twelve people in your list, this is like buying one gift per month.
4. Check out your list every so often. Tick off the names on the list as you go along. When you’re buying gifts way in advance, it’s possible for you to lose track of who you have already bought gifts for. By having this list, you minimize duplication and make sure that you get something for everybody who matters in your list.
5. Check out sales, including those that are immediately held after the holidays. You’ll find an amazing array of choices at slashed prices during these sales. Be familiar with sales schedules of stores and retailers, so that you can make your purchases when prices are low. Keep your eyes wide open for lightning sales that happen all throughout the year.
6. Don’t forget online shopping: a convenient way of getting gifts for those you love. Check out online retailers and sign up for their newsletters so that you’ll be informed when they have something on sale. Do check out online sales so that you can get gift items at great prices throughout the year.
7. Are you traveling during the year? Some cities are a shoppers’ paradise where you can get low-priced but high quality gift items. Check out bazaars and flea markets in the places you visit, as they can be a treasure trove of great and low-priced items. It’s also a great way to get unique items for those in your gift list.
8. Make your own gifts. When you have time to plan, you can actually make your own gifts--a very meaningful way to remind loved ones that you care. If you’re good at baking, go ahead and prepare cookies or other baked treats that you can give. You can also create art works or other handcrafted items for those in your gift list.
9. Be creative. Gifts do not always have to be material. Is there someone in your list who would appreciate time spent with you? Then go ahead and schedule a lunch or a bonding session with that loved one, in lieu of a gift next December. The gift of time is always appreciated, and makes a far better gift than that which comes inside a pretty box.
10. Don’t forget to plan and shop early for next year’s holiday spread. Instead of buying your Noche Buena ingredients in December, get the non-perishable ingredients in advance. Canned or bottled ingredients can be purchased even two to three months in advance, leaving you with just the easily perishable ingredients to worry about when Christmas 2017 approaches.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between news.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.