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Holiday, Vacation & Weekend

 

Say "Bah, Humbug!" To Holiday Debt

Ah, the holiday season! Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, Santa hats, jingle bells, and lots and lots of eggnog make the season a delight. But all fun and reindeer games aside, you have to be careful to make sure you don’t wind up as poor as Tiny Tim! Americans can spend as much as $1,000 a year on gifts for family and friends. That is a big chunk of money that can hit you pretty hard come January, but only if you don’t plan ahead. There are some tips and tricks you can do to...

Christmas, spending, budget, gifts, shopping, credit cards, bills, holiday, debt free, save money

Ah, the holiday season! Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, Santa hats, jingle bells, and lots and lots of eggnog make the season a delight. But all fun and reindeer games aside, you have to be careful to make sure you don’t wind up as poor as Tiny Tim! Americans can spend as much as $1,000 a year on gifts for family and friends. That is a big chunk of money that can hit you pretty hard come January, but only if you don’t plan ahead. There are some tips and tricks you can do to keep your holidays bright and debt-free this year.

Before the holidays arrive, do some careful plotting and planning. A few hours spent in preparation can mean less money spent on gifts. You don’t have to be Scrooge, you just have to be smart.

Decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it.

Pretend you are spending cash. How much can you afford out of pocket this month? If you cannot afford it right now, consider that you cannot afford it at all.

Budget non-gift and after-Christmas items too.

Remember to include other things you buy over the holidays--cards, stamps, candles, a tree, decorations, and food galore. Plus, plan ahead to save some money for next year by taking advantage of after-Christmas sales. It is all part of your holiday spending, so plan for it in your holiday budget.

Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for, and estimate how much you want to spend on each person.

Include the smaller gifts for teachers or your mailman. Include the price of cards and stamps, because Christmas cards count as gifts when it comes to your budget. Then, add it up and compare the total to your budgeted amount. Make the necessary adjustments. Your brother-in-law may only get socks this year.

Cut down your list.

This may sound harsh, but look closely at who you are buying gifts for. When saving money is an issue, it is ok not to give gifts to everyone you know.

Be creative.

Determine if maybe some people wouldn’t be happy with a nice card or maybe some home-baked cookies. Remember, the holidays aren’t about presents, but about good will towards man. Good will comes in many forms and does not always need wrapping paper. If you have a skill or a hobby, use it: needlework, knitting, art, poems. Burn a CD, make a photo album, or offer to plant their garden.

Carry your shopping list with you.

Take every opportunity to shop. Start early and try to get things before the rush, before highly sought, hard-to-find items go up in price, and before you can’t find what you need. This gives you a chance to comparison shop. It also takes away some of the stress and reduces your risk of overspending just for the sake of getting shopping over with.

If a store offers free gift-wrap, go for it!

It’ll save you time and money on buying wrapping paper, tape, bows, and cards and struggling with it all yourself.

Have willpower.

Stick to your estimates and you won’t go over budget. eBay is a wonderful shopping tool if you remember to start early enough to account for shipping time. Find the right item, bid your budget price and leave it. If someone outbids you, don’t get into a bidding war, just bid on something else within your price range.

Increase your income for the season.

During the holidays there are lots of ways to make a little extra money. Many stores hire part-time workers for the holidays. Since it is a party season, babysitting is in high demand. Be imaginative. You could be the Official Gift Wrapper in your neighborhood and wraps gifts for friends and neighbors for a small fee.

Use your credit cards.

Yes! If you stick to your budget and only spend what you are able to pay for in the next 30 days, then yes, you CAN use credit cards. The key is to use them as you would cash. Using your credit card is not a way to buy things you can’t afford, it is a way to organize your spending and possibly get some rewards and discounts along the way.

Make the credit card companies compete for your business.

It may be the holidays, but you can dig in your heels and play hardball. Call your credit card bank and tell them you won’t be using their card for your holiday purchases unless they sweeten it up for you. You want a little sugar and spice to make using that card a better deal. You can ask for 0% interest, or double your gas points or flyer miles. Anything to make using your credit card more worthwhile. Banks will usually be willing to strike a deal with you, so long as you try. It can’t hurt to ask.

Use specialized credit cards, but carefully.

Many of the stores where you will be buying your holiday gifts offer their own credit cards. They tend to have ridiculously high interest rates. However, they may give you discounts of 10%, 15%, sometimes even 20%! So, you could actually go ahead and use a store credit card to make the purchases and get the discounts, since you are paying these off when the bill comes due the interest rates should not be a problem. If you do get into a pinch and can’t pay them off right away, then transfer your balance to your lower-rate credit card before any interest is added to the higher-rate one. You need to be on the ball with this trick, but it saves you money.

It is important to keep in mind that every new credit card you apply for will lower your credit score. So if you’re saving up for a mortgage or a large loan, you’ll want to avoid applying for additional credit.

Come the start of January, your main concern is going to be getting ready for the new year, and you won’t want post-holiday money troubles making things worse. The Ghost of Christmas Past starts visiting even before you put the tree in the trash. Be sure to have a Happy New Year by being money-wise from the start:

When you get your credit card bill, pay it in full right away.

Remember, you considered it just like using cash. Once it is spent, it is spent. You may consider prepaying the credit card company once you know how much you’ve spent. You don’t have to wait for the bill to come in. You know you owe it. So keep the money from burning a hole in your pocket by getting it out to the credit card company as soon as possible.

Hit the sales.

Remember that budget you made for after-Christmas items? Use it now. Wrapping paper, Christmas cards and decorations will be discounted as much as 75%.

Go back to your old budget.

he holidays were about spending and being generous and indulging in delights, but now it is time to go back to your money-saving ways. You just had lots of fun, and got lots of treats, so now return to buying only what is necessary.

Start planning for next year.

Help get over the post-Christmas let down by beginning to plan for the next one. One way to avoid a huge Christmas bill is to buy presents throughout the year. Whenever you see a present that “would be perfect for so-and-so” or a great sale with good gift items, take advantage of the opportunity. The average consumer spent $672 in Christmas expenses for 2003. If you spread that out, and purchase a couple of $20 or $25 gifts every month, the bill doesn’t hurt quite as much. Plus, you’ll avoid the Christmas rush.

Start a Christmas fund.

Those quarters, nickels and dimes make a great Christmas fund. For your everyday purchases, instead of paying with exact change, pay with bills. You’ll be jingling by the end of the day, but you’ll easily have a dollar or more in loose change in your pocket. A dollar a day in change is an extra $365 you’ll have for Christmas Day.

Last January, when you were struggling with all your holiday debt and trying to get the mulled cider stains out of your carpet, you probably mumbled to yourself, “Next year will be different!” It can be. A few hours spent planning, plotting, creating, and caring can save you lots of money come January, and can make 2008 start off happy and holiday-debt-free.

 

Say "Bah, Humbug!" To Holiday Debt: Avoid the "Holiday Hangover"

Avoid the post holiday blues by learning tips and tricks to reign in your holiday spending.

holiday season,finances,gifts,purchases,spending,money,credit cards,Christmas,Thanksgiving,budget,gift wrap,cards,expenses,debt

Ah, the holiday season! Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, office parties, jingle bells, and lots and lots of eggnog make the season a delight. But all fun and reindeer games aside, you have to be careful to make sure you don't wind up as poor as Tiny Tim! Americans can spend as much as $1,000 a year on gifts for family, friends and business associates. That is a big chunk of money that can hit you pretty hard come January if you don't plan ahead. There are some tips and tricks you can do to keep your holidays bright and debt-free this year.

Before the holidays arrive, do some careful plotting and planning for family and business expenses. A few hours spent in preparation can mean less money spent on gifts. You don't have to be Scrooge, you just have to be smart.

1) Decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. Pretend you are spending cash. How much can you afford out of pocket this month? If you cannot afford it right now, consider that you cannot afford it at all.

2) Budget non-gift and after-Christmas items too. Remember to include other things you buy over the holidays - cards, stamps, candles, a tree, decorations, and food galore. Plus, plan ahead to save some money for next year by taking advantage of after Christmas sales. It is all part of your holiday spending, so plan for it in your holiday budget.

3) Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for and estimate how much you want to spend on each person. Include the smaller gifts for teachers or your mailman. Include the price of cards and stamps, because Christmas cards count as gifts when it comes to your budget. Then, add it up and compare the total to your budgeted amount. Make the necessary adjustments. Your brother-in-law may only get socks this year.

4) Cut down your list. This may sound harsh, but look closely at who you are buying gifts for. When saving money is an issue, it is ok not to give gifts to everyone you know. Send only cards to distant relatives, neighbors you don't know well and business owners who haven't bought from you this year.

5) Be creative. Determine if some people would be happy to receive home baked cookies. Remember, the holidays aren't about presents but about good will towards man. Good will comes in many forms and does not always need wrapping paper. If you have a skill or a hobby, use it: needlework, knitting, art or poems. Make a photo album, or offer to plant their garden. Use discount coupons for your customers.

6) Carry your shopping list with you. Take every opportunity to shop. Start early and try to get things before the rush, before highly sought, hard-to-find items go up in price, and before you can't find what you need. This gives you a chance to comparison shop. It also takes away some of the stress and reduces your risk of overspending just for the sake of finishing your shopping.

7) If a store offers free gift-wrap, go for it! It'll save you time and money on buying wrapping paper, tape, bows, and cards and struggling with it all yourself.

8) Have willpower. Stick to your estimates and you won't go over budget. eBay is a wonderful shopping tool if you remember to start early enough to account for shipping time. Find the right item, bid your budget price and leave it. If someone outbids you, don't get into a bidding war, just bid on something else within your price range.

9) Increase your income for the season. During the holidays there are lots of ways to make a little extra money. Many stores hire part-time workers for the holidays. Since it is a party season, babysitting is in high demand. Be imaginative. You could be the Official Gift Wrapper in your neighborhood and wrap gifts for friends and neighbors for a small fee.

10) Use your credit cards. Yes! If you stick to your budget and only spend what you are able to pay for in the next 30 days, then yes, you CAN use credit cards. The key is to use them as you would cash. Using your credit card is not a way to buy things you can't afford, it is a way to organize your spending and possibly get some rewards and discounts along the way.

11) Make the credit card companies compete for your business. It may be the holidays, but you can dig in your heels and play hardball. Call your credit card bank and tell them you won't be using their card for your holiday purchases unless they sweeten it up for you. You want a little sugar and spice to make using that card a better deal. You can ask for 0% interest, double your gas points or flyer miles. Anything to make using your credit card more worthwhile. Banks will usually be willing to strike a deal with you, so long as you try. It can't hurt to ask.

12) Use specialized credit cards, but carefully. Many of the stores where you will be buying your holiday gifts offer their own credit cards. They tend to have ridiculously high interest rates. However, they may give you discounts of 10%, 15%, sometimes even 20%! So, you could actually go ahead and use a store credit card to make the purchases and get the discounts, since you are paying these off when the bill comes due the interest rates should not be a problem. If you do get into a pinch and can't pay them off right away, then transfer your balance to your lower-rate credit card before any interest is added to the higher-rate one. You need to be on the ball with this trick, but it may save you money.

It is important to keep in mind that every new credit card you apply for will lower your credit score. So if you're saving up for a mortgage or a large loan, you'll want to avoid applying for additional credit.

Come the start of January, your main concern is going to be getting ready for the new year, and you won't want post-holiday money troubles making things worse. The Ghost of Christmas Past starts visiting even before you put the tree in the trash. Be sure to have a Happy New Year by being money-wise in advance.

(c) 2005 DebtGuru.com(r). This article may be freely distributed as long as the signature file and active link are included.

 

Holiday Spending Tips - Ten Ways To Keep From Having A Holiday Spending Hangover

Ah the holidays… a time for parties, over eating, and over spending. Americans routinely overspend during the holidays, often resulting in increasing credit card debt to go along with that increasing waistline from too much pumpkin pie.

The holidays are stressful enough. Don’t add to that stress by overspending your holiday budget. Here are ten tips to help you save time, money and stress this shopping season:

1. Make a list. Decide how much you can afford to spend this...

Cash flow planning, budgeting, financial planning, holiday spending

Ah the holidays… a time for parties, over eating, and over spending. Americans routinely overspend during the holidays, often resulting in increasing credit card debt to go along with that increasing waistline from too much pumpkin pie.

The holidays are stressful enough. Don’t add to that stress by overspending your holiday budget. Here are ten tips to help you save time, money and stress this shopping season:

1. Make a list. Decide how much you can afford to spend this year and write it down. Decide who you want to buy for, and how much you want to spend on each person. Take this list with you when you go shopping to ensure that you don’t buy on impulse or exceed your spending limit. Also, don’t forget to include wrapping paper, decorations and shipping costs. These can add up fast!

2. Pay cash for your holiday gifts. It’s much harder to spend cash than credit, so this tip alone could save you hundreds of dollars this holiday season. Also, avoid credit card offers or store charge card offers that offer you a discount if you sign up. These cards usually have high interest rates, and could end up costing much more in the long run than the discount you receive when you sign up for the card.

3. Do your shopping online this year. Buying online could result in discounts not available in stores. Just remember to include the shipping cost when buying online. Even if you don’t actually buy online, the time you can save by doing comparison shopping before you go to the malls could be invaluable.

4. Have a Secret Santa gift exchange, where you put names in a hat and each person draws one name to purchase for. If you have a large family, this could mean tremendous savings! You should set a dollar limit so each person knows how much to spend. That way no one overspends and relatives with smaller budgets won’t feel bad about not spending a fortune on a gift.

5. Another alternative for those with large families is to do a group gift. Have several relatives go in on one big gift instead of each person buying a separate gift. You will probably all save money and you can buy the recipient one big, cool gift that they really want.

6. Start early! Shopping early allows you to comparison shop and to catch pre-holiday sales, which could mean huge savings. This also curbs impulse shopping, which can be very expensive. Another benefit to shopping early is lower shipping costs if you need to mail a gift. Waiting til the last minute can be expensive because you’re more likely to pay full price for the gift, and you may have to pay extra to ship it if you want to guarantee it arrives in time.

7. Make your holiday gifts. If you have creative talents, such as cooking, crafts, etc., making your own gifts can be very special. If you’re not very creative, consider giving your time. Offers to baby-sit or to do something special for someone can be very personal and appreciated gifts. How many parents do you know who wouldn’t love to have free babysitting?

8. Purchase wrapping paper, holiday cards and other decorations right after the holidays. Seasonal items are usually offered at deep discounts after the holiday, and they never go out of style. Stock up on clearance-priced items for next year, this year!

9. If you’ll be traveling this holiday season, book your travel plans early. Airline flights, train tickets and bus tickets usually go up significantly during the holidays, so booking your travel plans early can save you money and stress.

10. Start a Christmas fund in January for next year’s shopping. Many credit unions and banks offer special accounts just for this purpose. A CD is another great way to save for next year’s holiday expenses. It never hurts to sock away a little money every month between now and the next holiday season. You’ll earn a little interest and you’ll have cash to spend on your holiday gifts and other expenses when the holidays roll around.




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