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Balancing Holiday Shopping with Staying on a Budget

Balancing Holiday Shopping with Staying on a Budget

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By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews, APUS

The holidays can be a magical time. But for those who participate in the tradition of gift giving, it can be a stressful time, especially for parents.

Our children are inundated with commercials promoting toys, dolls, video games and other expensive, “must have” gifts. It can be difficult for parents to maintain a balance between buying those special gifts and adhering to a budget.

But it is possible to keep to a budget or even beat it. Believe it or not, we spent 14 cents on my daughter for Christmas this year.

Saving My Daughter’s Unexpected Gifts for Christmas

First, let me say that this is my daughter’s first Christmas. I realize that expenses related to her will only increase from now on.

My daughter is a participant in pageants for very young children. For scoring well in a national pageant about a month ago, she won a massive stocking full of Christmas gifts.

Instead of opening the gifts, we chose to save them for Christmas. We already had other gifts to give her and we knew that the pageant award gifts would be age-appropriate. (On the plus side for dad, they were already wrapped.)

Last weekend, we set out to finish shopping for her gifts. We got her a tablet at Best Buy (she loves Baby First TV), as well as a new bathtub, a shopping cart cover, a play mat and some bath toys at Target.

I traded in some old electronics at Best Buy, which netted me a $50 gift card. In addition, we used a $100 Visa gift card we had received. The grand total of everything we bought came to $150.14, meaning we had to spend only 14 cents out of pocket.

A Budget Works though Smart Decisions and Taking Advantages of Savings

Obviously, this example of shopping on a budget was specific to our situation. But we were able to stay within our budget by making smart decisions and capitalizing on the savings available to us.

In addition to adhering to a budget, it’s also important to set realistic ground rules early for how many gifts children should expect or, for the younger ones, how many presents Santa is going to bring. While I will want to give my daughter everything she desires each year, I must also instill in her an understanding that it’s necessary to keep to a budget.

There are always ways to get creative when it comes to holiday shopping. Everyone’s budget is unique, so do not feel discouraged. Sit down, plan your expenses, stick to your budget and always take advantage of any help – or sales — that come along.

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