If you’re reading this now, you’re likely desperate. Dude, don’t worry. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be all right. Okay, now go to the nearest ATM machine and take out the amount that is exactly your holiday gift-buying budget. Return your wallet (minus driver’s license) to a secure location in your home, and get ye to the nearest shopping center, cash in hand.
But first, in order to assure that said cash is, in fact, all you need, it’s worth doing the math. Use the procedure below to split your budget logically across your gift list. (I did this for the Science Channel last year, so you can just watch the vid if you prefer.)
1. Define your total budget. Be realistic. For this example, I’m using $500.
2. List everyone for whom you need to buy a gift.
3. Now next to each person’s name, give them an importance rank from 1-10 (10 high).
4. Sum all the people, multiplied by their ranks. It should look something like this 10(wife)+8(kid1)+8(kid2)+3(dad)+3(mom)+1(in-laws)+4(nephew)=37(total)
5. Set your total equal to your budget: 37(total)=$500
6. Solve for (total): total=$13.50
7. Multiply this “total” by each person’s importance to see how much you should spend. In this example, your wife gets 10*13.5=$135, and your kids get 8*13.5=$108.
With only $500 in your pocket, and without time at this point to dilly dally with another shopping trip, you’ll be forced to stick to it.
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