Shopping Pitfalls: Sticking to Your Plan

As the holiday shopping season begins, I get ready to find the best sales on gifts I want to buy for family and friends. I want them to open their gifts and know how they are special to me and that I care enough to get them what they really want. To start, I set a budget for how much I’m going to spend based on what I can afford to pay with cash, check, or debit card. If I decide to use a credit card, I commit to paying it off when I get the bill. By now, I’ve already put a little money aside every month so I can afford to spend extra during the holidays.

Next, I make a list of the higher cost items I plan to buy for gifts. Then I look through the sales flyers for the stores with the best prices and online for the cyber sales and map out where I’m going to buy what. I’ve found that the earlier I shop the more likely I’ll be to get great deals on electronics (but not clothes and toys) – even before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now I have a well-thought-out plan that keeps me within my budget – what can possibly go wrong?

Well, here are a few pitfalls and suggestions to help you stick to your budget:

Pitfall What To Do
A popular item is sold out in stores and the only place to find it is on eBay, but it’s three or more times the price.


Wait and see if it returns to the stores. If not, wait until after the holidays. It’s not worth the financial stress when the bills can’t be paid later.


I buy something online that is costly to return and they no longer want/need it. Stick to online purchases that can be returned to box stores (Walmart, Target, etc.) and get a gift receipt so the person can return it easily and pick out what they do want.


There are too many good deals! I save so much on one gift that I buy something else too.


Remember it’s not about how much a gift costs, but how much they’ll enjoy it – so pocket the savings and use it for an emergency!


There are too many good deals and I keep finding incredible sales on things I need. Do I really need it or is it just too good of a sale to pass up? If it’s the latter just walk (or click) away and don’t look back. If you really need it now, it should already be in your household budget.


It’s just a “stocking stuffer” – but small things add up especially when buying for more than one person.


Include an amount for “stocking stuffers” and other small gifts in your holiday budget and stop when you hit your limit, even if it doesn’t fill the stocking. Wrap items so they take up more space, stuff the bottom with tissue paper, or use smaller stockings.


A family member has everything they need except for items that are too expensive. Talk with adult family members about limiting gift exchanges and find ways to share holiday experiences instead.



If these suggestions sound easy to do, then good for you! But, for many of us it’s not easy unless we’re prepared and committed to sticking to our plan. And for some, it is about more than sticking to a budget – shopping meets an emotional need, especially during the holidays. If you keep shopping and then can’t pay your bills, this article may be helpful:

In the past, I’ve found myself stressed out trying to find the perfect gifts for the people in my life. Over time, I’ve discovered that building memories by spending time with family and friends has a longer lasting impact than any gift I can buy. What about you?

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