According to a just-released survey conducted by Visa, some 77% of consumers have not yet completed all of their holiday shopping. This, according to Visa’s press release, is what leads to last-minute panic shopping as the seconds tick down towards the time to exchange gifts. Visa’s Senior Director of Global Financial Education Jason Alderman said, “When shoppers panic, they throw money at the problem and often overspend to get a gift—any gift—in time for the holidays.”
This is when the already slippery slope leading to credit card debt becomes even more treacherous. If you give into the urge to pull out your plastic and overspend simply in order to meet your gift buying obligations on time then you may have won the battle but you will have certainly lost the war. No matter what holiday you’re shopping for, the only way to resist the pull of holiday shopping panic is to sit down and formulate a sound, sane plan of attack.
Recalculate Your Budget
Or, if you never made a budget in the first place, sit down immediately and make one right now. Visa advises that consumers spend no more than 1.5% of their annual income on holiday presents for family and friends. Holiday shopping without a budget in place is a fast track to January debt. Determine the total amount you can afford to spend for holiday gifts (be sure to factor in things such as gift wrap, hostess gifts, holiday decorations, etc.) and subtract the amount you have already spent. The number you wind up with is what you have to work with. For example if your total budget is $500 and you have already spent $325, then the remaining amount you have to spend on last-minute gifts is $175.
Make A List
Write down the names of who you have left to shop for and, according to your newly readjusted budget, determine how much you can afford to spend on each person. It is important that you stick to that number and not overspend in the throes of last-minute holiday generosity. If you run out of funds before buying a gift for everyone on your list, get creative. Make IOU’s to be redeemed in January or head to the kitchen and start baking some holiday treats. A gift does not have to be expensive to be appreciated.
Use The Internet
There is no sense in running around in a frenzy searching for items that may already be off the shelves until the New Year. This late in the game, there is a very real possibility that stores will have run out of certain items, especially the popular ones. Before you hop into the car and zoom off to join the throngs at the mall, take a moment to go online and search for the store’s website to see if they have the gift you want in stock.
Be Flexible And Go With The Flow
If you can’t track down the specific gift you have in mind for someone, instead of driving yourself crazy be willing to choose something else instead - as long as the new item is comparable price-wise and doesn’t blow your budget. A willingness to improvise is a good shopper’s best quality!