How to Resist Buying Just One More Present

By Julie Rains on 17 December 2010 (Updated 9 July 2014) 1 comment
Photo: Sister72

There always seems to be one more Christmas present to buy. I am learning to resist the urge to keep shopping throughout the holidays. Here are techniques that have been helpful to me:

Stay away from malls and email announcements.

I rarely go to the mall in my area due to its monstrous size and the difficulty of maneuvering around its parking lot and the surrounding congested roads. Avoiding enticing, glamorously presented merchandise is easy to do if you skip the stores altogether.

The relentless emails are hard to resist, however, especially for an avid Internet shopper like me. I’ve created filters to delete e-commerce announcements, which then reside in an accessible but not-so-visible online location for 30 days. In the meantime, if I decide to go shopping, I can quickly peruse special offers by sorting through my digital trash.

Make lists of gifts that you’ve already purchased.

For those who have firmly established gift-giving lists and corresponding budgets along with friends and family members whose preferences are unchanging, grabbing bargains throughout the year can be a great money-saving strategy. If you buy in January to give in December, remembering what you’ve bought and where you’ve stashed the gift is not always easy. Record purchases and their locations and check your list prior to the beginning of additional shopping.

Be careful about buying ahead.

Make sure that the money spent on bargains is allocated to either your holiday budget or regular-spending budget. Also, think about whether these purchases will be useful or desired for the intended recipient months from now. Consider snapping up things with a small-dollar value that can be given for regularly scheduled gift exchanges with your coworkers or groups of friends.  

Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to buy everyday items.

One of my biggest problems has been waiting until Christmas to buy things that my family needs. Often I delay spending only to splurge later, conveniently ignoring both holiday and everyday budgets.

For example, I may buy winter coats for the kids, who keep growing out of last year’s clothing, as Christmas presents. Superficially, this approach seems to save money by making a gift of a needed item that I would have bought anyway. Extending this mindset to everyday household items (towels, socks, or even a replacement coffee maker), gift buying can easily get out of control.

Instead, I’ve decided to buy everyday items throughout the year when I have more time and energy to evaluate needs, set priorities, and stay within budgets.

Simplify your gift-giving list.

In the midst of the holiday spirit of love and generosity, adding people to your list is easy. The trap is that there is always one more person and one more gift to buy. Obviously, you don’t want to be at a family gathering or similar situation where you receive loads of gifts but have nothing to offer because of a unilateral decision to simplify; say something before the get-togethers if you intend to cut back gift-giving dramatically.

You can still trim your list by not adding new friends or eliminating those you see infrequently, substituting a letter for a present or finding alternate ways to celebrate these relationships.

Create homemade gifts.

Even if you trim your list, you may want to have a few items on hand in case you need a gift in a hurry. Make baked goods, food-related gifts, or gifts in a jar (#3), which are perfect for surprise gifts. If no gifts are needed, use them as hostess gifts or save for yourself.

Are you great at sticking to your holiday gift-giving list and budget? If not, what keeps you from controlling your shopping? Share in the comments.

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So true all of it and great timing that I checked Twitter and picked up the link to this post... I have just (about 4 mins ago) resisted purchasing an extra pressie for a relative, after I distributed them today (whilst kids were out of sight - Santa still visits our house) and thought it looked rather sparse this year. Each year I have reduced and reduced, and the 'gift giving guilt' or rather the lack of gift giving kicked in. I made myself a promise no impulse purchases. I loved the observation about general buying, it is very true. There is such an abundance of things for sale, and the spending momentum has kicked in, that to purchase a few 'must haves' for your own use is so easy to do. I approach shopping very practically all year round. I never shop blind and always make a note of what has been purchased. Great post! Jo (simplybeingmum - family life simply done)