Christmas gifts

Time to get your wallet out: only two more weeks before Christmas. It's that time of the year again, when miracle happens: mean people become somehow friendly, crazy drivers become tolerant of others, people actually smile at you without reasons, and somehow we all truly believe that we have unlimited cash on our bank accounts to buy everyone a gift in this world.

Christmas holiday fliers have been circulating since Black Friday and every retail store is playing your favorite jingle, with the hope to put you in the mood, and sweep you off your feet.. huh.. your cash. The question is: will you fall for it? Or, are you one of these guys that only have one facial expression, unchangeable, no matter what goes around you?

This year, many will limit their generosity to immediate family members only, using cash - not credits - as the mean of controlling their budgets. Although many economists believe that the hard times have passed, people have learned a little or two about saving during this past years. We will not see the smiling crazy shoppers that pushed two carts full of goodies to his SUV this year, rather moms and dads accompanied by their children,  holding their purchased gifts on their hands - no cart required.

Should we sacrifice our instant yearly good morale acquisition this Christmas for the lack of cash in our wallets? Or, will we give the Holiday a new meaning and definition, justifying our reason of not spending as usual? Maybe this year, we will all learn about the true meaning of Christmas: celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus into the world.

Either case, Christmas will happen; gifts or no gifts. It's all a matter of how you will plan on making it happen. The following are small suggestions for those who are planning on maximizing their cash power to acquire gifts for friends and relatives - not excluding themselves - without feeling the pain:

Make a list - One way to save money this Christmas would be to prepare a list well in advance. Don’t head out to the store only with your credit card in hand - No credit cards! Impulse shopping can keep you up at night worrying about bills!

Create a holiday budget - If you already have credit card debt you don’t want to increase it and if you’re debt free you certainly want to stay that way. Set a spending number you will not exceed and start setting aside cash in an account to cover it.

Discounts - They can be found at almost every store. Make best use of them! Keep your eyes open for a good bargain. However, don’t compromise on quality!

Shop Early for Christmas Presents - Shopping is a lot more relaxing if people don’t wait until the last couple of weeks before Christmas to hit the mall. Waiting until the last minute means the gifts one is looking for could be harder to find or even out of stock already.

Buy Christmas Gifts Online - Enjoy shopping with a hot cup of coffee from the comfort of one’s own home. By shopping early, people can have the time to order gifts online and be able to wait for the shipping time. Most major stores and lot of smaller ones have websites showing their products.

Don’t forget the coupons - Coupons aren’t just in newspapers or direct mail anymore. If you know particular stores where you’ll shop, get on their e-mail lists – you’ll start getting coupons and news of specials on a regular basis.

Don't Forget God - After all, it's His son's birthday. Bring a gift to the house of the Lord and thank Him for sending His son to this earth to save us. If you don't believe in God, at least, give to a charity: help those who are unfortunate during this joyful season; you may just find God on your way.

First Published: Dec 2010
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