While shopping for gifts for others, it’s easy to get distracted and start buying things for yourself. And although treating yourself here and there is OK, it can become a problem when gifts for yourself start blowing your holiday budget.
Set a Budget for Self-Gifts
Instead of making impulse purchases for yourself as you shop, plan ahead for any self-gifts.
“Many people write out a gift list for loved ones but overlook the need to manage self-gifts,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings and family finance expert. “Maybe there’s something you need for your home or a new beauty item. The holidays are a great time to shop, with many sales and deals out there. Thinking about what you actually need and writing out a list can ensure your purchases are purposeful and not wasteful. Plus, you can track what you buy and spend to ensure you don’t go over budget.”
Do the math to figure out how much you can actually afford to spend on yourself before making any of these purchases.
“Estimate how much you’re going to spend on gifts for others and subtract bills and other necessities to determine the amount you’re able to gift for yourself,” said Lisa Fischer, chief lending & growth officer at Mission Lane.
Have a Dedicated Payment Account for Personal Shopping
One way to make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford is to only spend money from a specific account dedicated to self-gifting.
“Open a checking or savings account dedicated to your holiday expenses to more easily manage the amount of money left in your personal shopping budget,” said Clay Stackhouse, regional outreach manager at Navy Federal Credit Union. “This method is also useful because when the account is empty, you have a clear cut-off on your spending.”
Keep Your Receipts
“If you keep track of your holiday spending for your loved ones and for yourself, you can have a better picture of where you stand in your holiday season budget,” Stackhouse said. “Also, if you need to return any of your items, it’ll be much easier to get that money back!”
The holidays tend to be a heavy shopping time, so you are likely to rack up more cash back and rewards than usual. Consider shopping for yourself after you’ve finished making purchases for everyone else on your list.
“Use the cash back you’ve earned on other holiday purchases to allow for a self-gift without putting a ding in your overall holiday shopping budget,” Woroch said. “Make sure the credit [card] you’re using is earning you maximum rewards by opting into any bonus offers. And always use a cash-back app or tool to earn more back.”
Your rewards will go even further if you wait until after the holidays to buy gifts for yourself.
“Sales are often better then and eBay is flooded with new posts from people who got gifts they don’t want,” said Lyle David Solomon, a bankruptcy attorney at Oak View Law Group. “You can usually get what you wanted at an even better price after the holidays.”
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