Listen weekdays from 1-3pm ET
(No audio? Try our help)
Recent shows | More media

Listen Live: Mon-Fri 1-3pm ET

Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014

Make Your Holiday Shopping List the Clark Smart Way



By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


With Christmas fast approaching, I want to tell you how to manage your holiday shopping list without going over budget.

But first, I have a dirty little secret to reveal: Half of all holiday shopping you do when you're supposedly shopping for others is probably going to be for you! While this isn't true of everyone, this is a very typical pattern.

So be honest with yourself before you get into the stores.

Know the right way to make your shopping list

Here's what I recommend: Come up with a total dollar amount you feel comfortable spending on everyone, including yourself. Once you have that dollar amount, start writing out all the names of your intended gift recipients.

Next you want to put specific dollar amounts by each name to indicate how much you'll spend on each person. Once you're done, add up all those figures. Are you over budget yet? Most people will be.

If you are, start marking people off the list or scaling back the dollar amounts next to each name until you're within the total dollar amount you wanted to spend for everyone on your list.

Take that paper with you when you're out shopping. Keep a running tally as you make purchases. If you spend less on someone than anticipated, you have more money to spend on someone else. If you spend more on someone, then you'll have less to spend on others. Remember to keep track.

I love it every season when people come up to me in the stores and show me their lists!

By using my method, you'll avoid that January hangover effect when the credit card bills come due after the holidays and you don't have enough money to cover them.

One last hint: You may also want to purge the plastic from your purse or wallet and try paying for holiday shopping with cash only. When there's no cash left, there can be no more purchases. I recently spoke to a credit counselor who sees tons of clients by March because they can't handle their holiday bills. Don't let this be you!

Toys promotions a-plenty!

I'm expecting this will be a very "promotional" Christmas, which in retail means the deals will be plentiful.

A lot of the action in the toy world is being driven by 4-way competition between Toys R Us, Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

You've probably heard about showrooming—using your smartphone to comparison shop when you're in a store and find a better deal somewhere other than the physical store where you're at or online. But this year it's about "webrooming."

Webrooming is when you shop on the web to locate the best price before you go out and buy that item in a traditional store.

Here's an example of webrooming: I was recently in Walmart shopping with my son for a Lego set. But before I got to the store, I found the cheapest price on Walmart.com. It turned out Walmart the physical store wouldn't match the price on Walmart the website...but that's a whole other story!