If you bought the gifts in the holiday
classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” it would cost a record $27,393,
according to the 30th annual PNC Christmas Price Index. Few have a
budget for all those birds and performers, but ‘tis the season to get carried
away. PNC’s Joseph M. Jennings, Jr., CFA, senior vice president and investment
director of Wealth Management offers these Five Golden Rules so you don’t
overstuff the stockings – or your budget:
1. Be choosy: Identify your special
partridge and pare down your list to those you’re actually close to. Don’t
guilt-buy for those far-away relatives who will re-gift your tacky present
anyways. If you can’t resist, create a funny e-card for free.
2. Create a budget: Don’t be one of the
geese who lays a spending egg. Once you know who you’re buying for, decide how
much you will spend per person. If $15 is all you can afford per person, then
spend $15 – not $17 or $20. If that seems a bit Scrooge-like, tell your
friends/family to set the same limits for you. Take advantage of online
budgeting tools to set limits with text or email alerts to warn you.
3. Find the bargains: Be surfing while the
swans are a swimming. Look for coupons and Groupons. When it comes to online
shopping, there’s a cost for convenience. PNC calculates the online cost of the
“The Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts is $39,762, which is 45 percent over the
in-person approach. But you can save by watching for free shipping offers and
no-hassle returns plus there’s Cyber Monday deals and Free Shipping Day on Dec.
4. Get crafty: Handy drummers are
drumming up their own gifts. Whip up a few dozen batches of your special
cookies, cake pops or brownies, package in pretty baskets with a bow and call
it a day. Who on your list wouldn’t love a homemade treat over a store-bought
5. Pay smartly: Like the maids, milk the most out of your money. Pre-paid cards mean you only spend a set amount and are perfect for kids to learn how to buy for others and stay on budget. Cash in on your credit card reward points to buy gifts. When using credit, make sure you have a plan to pay off your balance. For online payments, look for security or privacy seals first before submitting information. The payment page should have a lock icon and the address should start with “https”.