I don’t know about you, but when you are Christmas shopping for three kids, other family members and a Dec. 19th birthday for your 8-year-old son, this time of year can seem a little more daunting than joyful. Luckily, I’ve found a great way to plan my shopping using Amazon Wish List and Google Alerts that takes the stress out of staying in my budget and making sure I don’t leave anyone out.
Before you can even start making those wish lists and snagging up deals you have to have a clear budget in mind. Decide precisely how much you have to spend on everyone on your list as a whole first. Then decide on a dollar amount you are willing to spend on everyone that is not your spouse or kids. If it’s only five dollars, so be it, it is about the thought remember, and combining the amount for everyone may allow you to give them each a nice handmade gift.
Take the remaining amount and allocate some out for you and your spouse and stocking stuffers (those little buggers catch me by surprise every year if I don’t) and then divide the rest amongst your children.
Now that you know how much you have to spend and how much is being spent on whom, start a spreadsheet in Google docs, like this. Each time you make a purchase you will put the item in your document to easily keep a handle on how much you are spending.
Setting up Wish Lists
I love Amazon wish list for tracking items for everyone on my holiday list. Amazon has a lovely addition to your tool bar while browsing that allows you to add an item from any website you may be browsing, so I set up a list for each child and anyone else I may be shopping for and make them private. The kids are able to add items they want on their own this way and I can add items they may not have thought about. Once the list are made, I find I have large variety to choose from saved in a visual format that I can even share with family members via email or Facebook when they ask “What should I get for so and so this year.”
Get the Most for Your Money
It is easy to want to make any holiday purchase as soon as you a store put it on sale, but how can you be sure that is the best deal of the day? Well, a great way to keep tabs on the items in your wish list is to set up a Google Alert for each one.
While this may be a bit time consuming, you’re sure to find the things you need at the lowest prices. Here is the alert I set up for an item on Builder’s Boy List, "Star Wars Science The Force Trainer.” Can you guess what I will be buying today?
I have my alerts set up to email me as they come in, you may prefer one daily email however. As with all things, the grass is always greener on the other side, so you may find yourself hesitant to purchase when you see a great deal, in hopes that a better one may come along. Here is my theory on the matter.
- If the deal gets me the item at 50% off or more, I purchase it.
- If the deal offers me buy one get one free, I purchase it.
- If the deal offers another item free with my purchase that we want or need, I purchase it.
By following this rule, I can feel good about my purchase even if a better offer comes along later, because I know that I still managed to do some savvy shopping.