I never really approached holiday shopping with a strategy prior to this year. In fact, I actively avoided holiday shopping for much of my adult life because the phrase “Black Friday” makes me cringe from all my years in retail. Since I’m still going strong with my credit card ban, I need a plan to approach holiday shopping. The fastest and cheapest way to get it done is with online ordering.
But I also have ulterior motives for shopping only on Cyber Monday…I’m shopping for myself, too. My boyfriend and I have a lot of travel plans within the next couple months and it’s important that we get the necessities for the trip (think suitcases, luggage scales, headphones for travel, adapters, etc.). So not only do I need to stay within bounds for my travel budget, but also gifting others.
I created a budget for holiday and for travel and ultimately I need to stay in these bounds no matter what. These steps are a guide for me to buy what I need and what is within my budget.
Have a plan—and stick with it!—of who gets what and where I can buy all those items. I made a spreadsheet of gift ideas! I found this one from The Financial Diet to be really helpful. I also have a list of items I need to buy for traveling so I don’t want to deviate from that if I can help it.
Since I’ll be buying on Cyber Monday, I will be using my laptop to make the purchases and I have already set up browser savings tools like Honey, Retail Me Not, and/or Ebates. Alternatively, if I were to make a purchase through the Ibotta app, I would be able to get cash back for my purchases. Either way, it’s savings!
Stay within budget and acknowledge that there are some items (gifts or otherwise) that can be purchased outside of this mega shopping day.
It’s not a perfect strategy, I just want to acknowledge that it’s something I needed to do differently for my own personal finances. In my previous experience shopping was always about excessive giving. For friends, I’d always add just a touch extra with the gift itself (like adding a hand lotion to a gift bag), or with family (buying extra gifts for stockings). My outlook on gifting and budgeting has changed. There’s no reason to go over the top because it’s mostly to satisfy my need to make people happy verses what will make them happy.