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5 Money Saving Questions to Ask Before Buying Christmas Gifts

My wife and I never go shopping for Christmas gifts on Black Friday. I don’t care how good the deals are the crowds are just too much for us. We are more Cyber Monday or wait until the last minute type of people.

christmas giftsBuying Christmas gifts is always fun for us though because we love to spend money on the people we care about. It’s become even better recently since we’ve learned how to save money throughout the year to spend at Christmas. Now all of our Christmas gifts are paid for in cash and we never see a credit card bill come January.

While we all get excited about spending money on the people we love, it can get seriously out of hand. What happens in December can have short and long-term financial consequences if you don’t keep your spending on Christmas gifts in check. So here are five simple questions you should ask yourself as you buy Christmas gifts for those special people in your life.

Ask These Before Buying Christmas Gifts

It may seem tedious to run these questions through your head before buying those Christmas gifts. Doing so however might keep you from buying for the wrong reason, buying something impractical or buying too much gift. If anything they will help you slow down and analyze why you are buying that present.

Question #1: Can I afford it?

This isn’t a wink-wink, blow-off question you ask right before you swipe your credit card at the register. You have to ask this question before you go shopping or you will get caught up in the excitement of the purchase. It’s funny how spending money makes us lose all reason.

So create a Christmas budget ahead of time. Plan out how much you will spend for all the people in your life. Give yourself a range (ex. $50-75 per person) and stick within that. And definitely monitor your budget as you buy items so you always know how much you have left to spend.

It’s so crucial to only spend what you truly can afford. And by afford I mean what you can spend without going into debt. If you have to go into debt to buy it, you can’t afford it.

Related Content: The Ultimate Guide on How to Make the Best Monthly Budget

Question #2: Is this overkill?

I love the commercials where a wife receives a $10,000 diamond ring for Christmas. Or the husband who is surprised to see in his snowy driveway a brand new luxury car perfectly wrapped in a bow. C’mon man – where is this happening? Who is buying these types of gifts without their spouses’ knowledge?

I won’t lie to you. The thought of buying an incredible gift like that for my wife gets me excited. I love to spend with the best of them.

But I wouldn’t buy an expensive gift if I thought it would lead to a moment where the recipient feels awkward for getting it. And I certainly wouldn’t do it if the purchase led me into debt. Overdoing it on expensive Christmas gifts may lead to more regret than you’d wish.

Question #3: Why am I buying this?

This is a really important question because it speaks to your motive? Why are you buying those Christmas gifts? Is it out of guilt? Expectation? Obligation? Are you trying to send a passive-aggressive message to the recipient? “Hey honey, here’s a new vacuum cleaner – get to work!”

Motive is huge. We can buy for all the wrong reasons at Christmas time. Check your attitude at the door before spend money to make sure your heart is in the right place.

Related Content: Giving for the Wrong Reasons This Christmas (or Anytime)

Question #4: Is this useful? (or practical)

Spend some time thinking about the person for whom you are buying Christmas gifts. Don’t think about whether or not they’d appreciate the gift. We all appreciate that people think about us even if the gift stinks.

Instead think about whether the gift is really useful. Can it be put to practical use somewhere, somehow? Will it be beneficial for them to some degree? If it is, the recipient will appreciate it even more.

Question #5 Is this really for me?

Every year, a large percentage of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of the holiday deals to buy non-Christmas gifts for themselves. Do you see anything wrong with that? I don’t. It’s a great time of year to take advantage of all the awesome deals.

The focus of this question though deals with purchasing Christmas gifts that are more for us than the person we buy it for. Husbands, is that 70” 4K-HDTV really for her or for you to watch the big game? Wives, is that Netflix subscription really for him or for you to binge watch that hot new show everyone at the office is talking about?

It’s OK to think about yourself at Christmas. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s all about someone else when it’s really not.

Shopping for Christmas gifts can be so much fun. But you must exercise some responsibility and wisdom as you spend money. If you don’t, the debt will pile up and follow you into the new year. Life will be miserable for several months (or longer) as you attempt to pay the gifts off.

Make sure all your purchases are done within the framework of your budget and make sure they are done for the right reasons, to bless other people. You’ll save more money that way and maximize the appreciative factor as your gifts are being opened.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: Do you ever overspend on Christmas gifts? How do you go about determining what to buy the people in your life? Have you ever bought something at Christmas that was really for you? What’s the most impractical Christmas gift you ever received?

Image by Visit Finland at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. I think self-gifting can be dangerous if you aren’t careful about it. Some people go crazy overboard with self-gifting “because it’s on sale” or “because I deserve it”. Buying things you need or will use during pre-Christmas sales makes sense, but buying luxurious self-gifts generally doesn’t.

    • It’s hard to resist the self-gifting with all the deals out there. My wife and I will probably self-gift something. But that will be our Christmas gift to ourvelves instead of buying each other individual gifts.

  2. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income says

    I’m not a black Friday shopper either. My wife will sometimes send me a text after she has been out shopping and say “thank you for my Christmas gift” and she just buys her own little items. I couldn’t think of anything so I said to count our June vacation as Christmas and thought my wife would say, “no that doesn’t count” but instead she said, “Awesome, done.” I like time off from work and time with family….that is more enjoyable then more stuff now days.

    • “…count our June vacation as Christmas…” That’ll work! Last year we took a mini-vacation at Christmas instead of spending money on gifts for our kids. Best part was they loved it. They didn’t mind not receiving presents at all.

  3. Number one question is the key. A lot of people spend money that they don’t have to save face and it’s crazy. This year I really don’t have and because I don’t I haven’t even started shopping yet. I have decided to DIY most of my gift this year, but I refuse to spend money I don’t have.

    • “…spend money that they don’t have…” There are many reasons this happens: expectations, feelings of obligation, guilt, tradition, etc. I’m sure it’s hard but you are wise for resisting the urge to spend money you don’t have.

  4. I set a strict budget for all my loved ones. I could easily overspend on my nieces and nephews but I make sure to stay within my limit by doing a lot of research, sale-searching after I have decided on a gift. No impulse buys! That really helps me.

    • “…set a strict budget for all my loved ones.” That’s a great strategy Jess! Really helps remove the emotion from the equation. With limits you’ll stick to what you can afford and resist the impulse buys.

  5. Hey Brian, awesome questions. Thinking about your post I’m remembering an expensive GPS tracker my aunt got me. It was for walking, hiking, and geocaching. It was an extremely thoughtful gift but had a learning curve, and I wasn’t up for taking on another project at the time. I saved it but ended up tossing it out a few years later and felt a bit bad about it. But a $10 pedometer would have been much more useful.

    • I’ve had the same experience with gifts. That sounds like one of those overkill gifts. A simple, cheap geocaching app would have sufficed. That’s what we use.

  6. These are fabulous questions to ask yourself before buying a gift. Like you, I love buying gifts for loved ones. We also follow a Christmas budget, so gift-giving is guilt-free too, which another reason why I love it. I’m sure I would love it a lot less if it came with a big credit card bill that I could not afford. All the questions are great but I particularly like #2 and #3 because most people don’t ask themselves those questions and yet they should. Those are two big reasons why people overspend – to keep up and/or impress others – which has nothing to do with Christmas.

    • I’m telling you I love the fact that we save for our Christmas presents all throughout the year. Putting a little money aside each month helps us have the cash we need come December. It really make shopping more enjoyable when you know you’ve intentionally planned for it.

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