Budgeting For The Holidays!
The joyful holiday season can often turn into a nightmare for many shoppers due to overspending on gifts, holiday entertainment and maxed out credit cards. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With some careful planning and strong will, you can keep your budget intact and experience the true spirit of the holidays. Below are some tips from advisors to help you along the way.
1. Plan Ahead
Determine your budget for holiday spending at least one month in advance. This includes gifts, greeting cards, postage, shipping costs, wrapping paper and other supplies, the Christmas tree, decorations, holiday meals, travel expenses and general entertainment. Make a list of family and friends who will receive gifts this year and write down how much you will spend on each. Be sure to stick with your prioritized budget.
2. Open a Christmas Club Account
Many banks offer a specific savings plan to help customers put away money for the Holidays. At the beginning of each year, start diverting a certain amount of money each month automatically into this account. By the time the holidays roll around, you will have generating a bulk sum for holiday spending. It may be too late for this year, but this is something you can implement right away in January for next year.
3. Do Your Research
Pore through the newspaper ads each week looking for the best deals on your gift list. Visit several different stores to do price comparisons. You can also get on the Internet to check prices.
4. Beware of Store Credit Cards
Many department stores and other specialty stores offer a one-time discount when you make a purchase on their credit card. Be cautious when signing up because these cards often have interest rates of 20 percent and higher. If you tend to carry a balance on your credit cards, the interest rate often outweighs the original purchase price.
5. Be Creative
Instead of trying to keep up with the Jones’s, be creative with your giving. Do you have a special artistic talent or a hobby? Consider making your gifts. Or offer to volunteer your time for someone who needs a babysitter, or needs help around the house. These are often the most meaningful gifts and it’s still the thought that counts.
6. Home made gift baskets! Rather than store bought gift baskets you can always make your own! Fill baskets with baked goods, shower gels and candles! You can even buy things in bulk at places like Costco and divid it up into different gift baskets.