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Why Holiday Shopping Shouldn’t Cost You a Fortune

holiday shopping
IgorVetushko on Deposit Photos

Are you one of the many Americans planning to spend around $800 on gifts while holiday shopping? I have one question for you: Why?

Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that says you have to spend beyond your means to shower friends and family with lavish gifts? Or that you need to spend $100 or more on each person in your immediate family?

I’m going to take a guess and say that you’re not looking forward to receiving your credit card bill come January.

Who Cares What Tradition Says?

There’s no reason to get caught in this cycle of financing gifts in the last month of the year. So what if tradition says there should be gifts under the tree for everyone to rip into on Christmas morning? As millennials, aren’t we supposed to be bucking tradition?

That’s exactly the mindset I propose you take this holiday season. I know, it’s easier said than done. Especially when your family or friends are competing to see who can give each other fancier gifts.

Let me ask you: what’s the best present you ever received? I’m willing to bet it wasn’t necessarily the most extravagant thing, especially if you tend to value relationships or experiences over “stuff.”

Likewise, what’s the best present you’ve ever given someone? Probably not the most expensive thing you could have purchased, but maybe the most meaningful.

Stop Spending Hundreds on Gifts That Aren’t Appreciated

The truth is it doesn’t take a lot to make someone happy. A good time with loved ones is what the holidays are all about, and you don’t need to spend hundreds to make that happen.

Think about it – does it feel good to give someone a crazy expensive gift that will simply sit in someone’s garage/attic/living room for years, collecting dust? Or does it feel nice to give someone a less expensive, meaningful gift, knowing they’ll treasure it?

I love receiving practical gifts that I need and will use for a while, or hand-made gifts that took time and care to craft. I don’t like getting gifts that clearly didn’t have any thought put into them. We, as a society, need to stop giving presents just for the sake of giving them. It’s a waste of money and effort, and it usually leads to debt and feelings of guilt from one or both parties.

Ignoring the Pressure to Spend

Unfortunately, there’s a ton of pressure to spend during this time of year. Even if we avoid the stores, our inboxes get flooded with sales and ads telling us we need to act now.

It can be hard to tune out the advertisements, especially when you’re looking to get a good deal on something. The whole FOMO thing kicks in and you find yourself frantically entering your credit card information.

Thankfully, if you haven’t done any shopping yet, there’s still time to keep your finances together during the holidays. Suggest a different tradition among family and friends, if one exists already. Try a grab bag or a Secret Santa exchange so each person only has to buy one gift, and set a reasonable monetary limit so people don’t go overboard.

Even better, focus on giving people experiences. Your time is just as valuable as your money. If you’re tight on the latter, offer to make someone’s life easier.

There are many different ways you can celebrate the holidays with loved ones – without spending a fortune and going into debt!

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