Track Your Holiday Gift Spending

by Jamie Sanford on November 10, 2011

Let’s get into some holiday preparation ideas for the holidays!  I am going to revisit some of my gift-giving tips soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share the spreadsheet that I use for tracking all of my gift purchases.  If you are like me and try to buy holiday gifts all year, the tracker is the best way to remind yourself that you already bought a gift for Cousin Sally, back in February.

So, here we go.

So, it’s a spreadsheet, it isn’t rocket science.  However, as simple as it looks, it took me a while to get all of the columns and formulas that I wanted, so here it is.  Let’s break it down.

The first columns are the very basics.  I think that filling this in early in the calendar year will create a little mental reminder that you’ve committed yourself to shop for gifts all year and not just at the last minute.

In addition, defining an absolute budget will help you stick it it.  One of the biggest problems with early shopping is that there is a possibility that you will find something else for someone after you’ve spent your budget.  If you can return something you have already bought, then fine.  If you can’t, then you need to remember the item and go back for it in the next calendar year.

There are 3 columns for gifts to purchase for each person(s).  In this area, you describe the gift, list the price, and note whether or not it has been purchased.  As you can see here, the cells are blue.  Once I have a gift that is “done” (i.e. in my possession), I go ahead and make it another color so I can gloss over it.  When I have completely finished with obtaining gifts for a person(s) on the list, the whole row gets a single color.

And of course, the budget tracking portion of the spreadsheet.  The columns will automatically add up in the “total spent” column, and “remaining in budget” will show you what you have left, if any.  It will show a number in parentheses if you have a negative remainder!

I would love to hear if anyone ends up using my little creation to track their holiday gifting and spending, but mostly, it is designed to use all year, for birthdays, anniversaries, baby gifts, Hanukkah and whatever other gift-giving happenings are in your life.

Track your holiday gift spending here with the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Good luck!

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“No Shopping” Month Continued…

by Jamie Sanford on February 8, 2011

“No Shopping” month was implemented in my house in January. My husband and I both had birthdays in December and of course there was holiday gift spending, which all adds up to feeling spent in more ways than one. So it was decided that we would not make any purchases deemed frivolous in January. Obviously we have to eat and whatnot, so we spend money on that, but I’m talking more about the little things, like iTunes purchases, little Amazon purchases, etc.  While I obviously love shopping online, the ease with which we can spend money makes for a lot more spending than if we were forced to go to the mall every time I wanted to buy music or anything else.

Maybe Santana is dealing with "no shopping" month too.

So the month went by, and I won’t lie, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t spending any money in January, and I know that it is largely due to the fact that I get what feels like 25 emails a day from sale sites like Ideeli and Gilt.  Plus, I was writing posts for the Daily Wishlist, which requires a lot of online browsing.

Either way, it’s now February 7th and with the exception of ordering OPI Black Shatter online because I can’t find it anywhere in stores and the Mumford & Sons album, I haven’t bought anything.  I have some Ideeli credit to use but nothing has appealed to me.  I also used a store credit I had in January, but I figured that it didn’t count.

Cocktails counted as food. Right.

I did also go out with friends during “no shopping” month, but that doesn’t count either.  1, I would have needed to eat or drink something during that time anyway, and 2, I don’t go out so much that it’s eating up a major portion of my income.

Anyway, it was pretty telling.  I noticed a difference in my bank account for sure, and that was a good feeling.  The downside of this is that I enjoyed the savings so much that I don’t want to buy things that I need! I’m desperately in need of new snow boots and I love a number of boots in the Sorel collection, but I find myself not wanting to spend my money on something unless its really fun – and while these are some of the chicest snowboots I’ve seen, they are not that fun!

I know I’m not the only person who has been trying the shopping diet in January, I’ve read about a few others doing it too!  I know I’m going to need to pick up some things for my wardrobe in the next few weeks so I’m going to have to deal with it, but I think this gave me a big reminder of how I probably don’t really need as much as I might think.  That item that looks cute or intriguing right now is probably not as fulfilling as you might think.

So, would anyone else be game to try to curb their spending for a month? I think I’m going to try this out a few times a year, I think it would be a great way to save some extra cash for a specific purchase or event.

If you’ve tried a shopping diet or “no shopping” month of your own, please share in the comments.

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