Saturday, November 28, 2009

Don't Get Caught Up In The Excitement

Tip #211 - Don't Get Caught Up In The Excitement. It's easy with Christmas around the corner (and Hanukkah, New Year's, etc.) to get caught up with the "buying season" and throw your budget and your money out the proverbial window. Don't. Do. It. While I certainly suggested in an earlier post to take advantage of good deals that stores are offering and to buy things for the lowest amount that you can, it does not mean blowing your budget on things you don't need.

Many of us are good all year long with setting a budget and trying hard to stick to it by not shopping, using coupons when we do, doing our research on big purchases, and setting a limit on what we will spend on frivolous items, but then Christmas comes, and all of the hard work we've done all year gets lost in a few weeks' buying binge.

At this time of year, try not to get sucked into all of these great deals. A $47 portable DVD player is NOT a good deal unless you were already in the market for one and it is the lowest price you've seen for the brand you wanted. If it's just a great deal on something you weren't going to get then it is a waste of money.

My advice? Like advice I've given earlier, just don't go shopping. It's the easiest way NOT to spend money. But if you must go because you are buying something you planned to buy, ignore the glow of the bright lights, the alluring sounds of "lowest price of the year" and the influence of everyone else throwing things into their shopping carts. Say to yourself, "I will save money this year. I've been good all year. I won't blow it now." Christmas seems to be the downfall of many people when all spending plans and good intentions go out the window. And then when January comes and brings the bills, reality sets in. And it also starts us out on the wrong foot for next year's budget.

So please this holiday season, remember what you've worked hard on all year and try not to get dazzled by all of the sales. It's all just stuff most of which we don't need. Take a second look at your budget for this year, look at the gift category and try hard not to go over it. And on December 31 when we are making a new budget for next year and calculating how much you managed to save this year, you will be happy.

In Real Life (IRL) - I had no intention of going shopping on Black Friday. We are visiting my folks in suburban Philadelphia, and we actually planned on taking the kids to some historic sights like the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross' house. But my husband has been under the weather and the real weather was quite cold, so we put those plans on hold until our springtime visit. So as we sat around my parents' home, my oldest daughter began to look through the sale circulars. Wow, I'm glad we don't get the newspaper at my house anymore because they are tempting! My daughter had gotten a gift card to Target for her birthday. She wanted to buy something with it, and saw a craft that she liked in the Target circular. So rather than relish in our nation's history I joined the masses at Target on Friday morning.

We did NOT go at 4 am! We actually drove over there at 10 am. And while it was a very crowded parking lot, the store was prepared for the number of people it expected. We found my daughter's craft, and we should have been on our merry way. But being it was an opportunity for me to shop freely without my 2 and 4 year old and because I very rarely go to Target because it's farther from my house than I like to shop, I will admit that I succommed to the shopping frenzy that was Black Friday. All the shoppers seemed to be running around trying to find any of the great 4 am doorbusters that were still left. And it was easy to get caught up in the excitement. I admit it, I did. I ended up spending $50. Admittedly, some of the stuff were things we needed - socks, shoes, and underwear for my daughter. But some of the things were not on my need to buy list - two DVDs, two one-dollar gifts for my younger children, a very cute dress for my younger daughter (really not needed) and a gift (same craft my daughter bought) for a future unknown birthday party my daughter will be going to. And while the socks, shoes, and underwear were on my mental list for quite some time, none of the other things were.

Because of my recent experience, I can see how easy it is to buy when we go to the stores. And that's why I still stick by my earlier advice of staying out of them. But it's hard this time of year when we have presents to purchase. So, this "in real life" example follows the old adage of do as I say not as I do. Please, don't get caught up in the excitement of holiday shopping. It will only leave you with less money in your pocket. I speak from experience. I am $47 richer than I could have been, though. Target was all out of $47 DVD players. Ask me how I know. Oh, and one of the DVDs is going back.

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