Money Saving Techniques
10 Ways to Save Money During the Holidays
Ozeme J. Bonnette
If you already have more debt than you'd like, the holidays can make it worse. So, here are a few money saving tips to help you keep your finances in order.
1) Create a budget. A budget is actually the best way to keep you on track. Knowing how much you can really afford to spend will help you figure out how many presents you can buy. Make sure your budget includes everything you normally buy during the holidays, such as decorations, cards, and postage.
2) Make a list. Ask yourself two questions before you go to the mall: Who am I shopping for? and How much can I spend on each person? Keep the list within the budget, and if it's not working out, try reducing the names or the amount you are spending on each person.
3) Organize a gift exchange. If you have a big family, you don't have to buy presents for everyone. Organize a gift exchange, where each family member buys only one gift for someone else. This reduces the pressure of having to stretch the money too thin. Since you're only buying one gift, you're also able to spend a little more to get something better.
4) Plan ahead. If you start early, you can take advantage of the best sales and have a better chance of finding exactly what you're looking for. Finding the ideal gift is almost impossible on Christmas Eve.
5) Just say no. The stores have almost perfected the skill of luring you in during the holiday season. The colorful decorations and Christmas music make those sales all the more tempting, and it is easy to buy things that no one will ever use. Don't buy things on impulse. Also, set boundaries for your children's wish list so they don't expect more than you can reasonably accomplish.
6) Give priceless gifts. If money is running low, find other ways to give gifts. Organize an inexpensive outing or make a special dinner or dessert. Get creative. There's nothing wrong with making presents on your own. Try finding new uses for old things. Remember that it is the thought that counts.
7) Stick to cash. If you have trouble with budgeting, then only spend cash. Once it's gone, your shopping is done.
8) Stay away from credit cards. Credit cards may be easier, but it is easy to lose track of spending. If you end up spending more than you can afford to pay off at one time, you could end up paying for those gifts for the next 30 years.
9) Start planning for next year. Take advantage of the after-Christmas sales to get things for next year. You can not only find holiday decorations at unbelievably low prices, but also get a head start on basic items for next year's gift giving.
10) Don't forget the true meaning of the holiday. This time hasn't always been about buying lots of presents and racking up debt. Reflect on your own spiritual or cultural beliefs with your family.
Ozeme J. Bonnette is a financial coach, speaker, and author of Get What Belongs to You: A Christian Guide to Managing Your Finances. After working for a top financial services company, she shifted her focus to speaking to groups hoping to increase financial literacy. She earned 3 Bachelor's degrees at Fresno State, and her MBA at UCLA's Anderson School. Her blog is http://www.povertynorriches.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.