Your financial responsibility at the holidays…Don’t go broke!
Question 1: How do we prevent ourselves from going broke at the holidays?
During the holidays it is easy to get carried away spending money especially when you have kiddos (whether your own or others) running around. But think back to your childhood, how many gifts do you actually remember receiving? Often we remember the times spent with family and friends more than we actually remember the stuff we received. Keep this in mind when shopping for the holidays this year or next. And be sure to:
1) Be responsible, don’t spend more than you can afford
2) Make a list of who you plan to shop for and a assign dollar value you want to spend for each person
3) Ask those coming over for holiday meals to each bring a dish so you don’t have to bare the financial responsibility of the whole meal.
Question 2: What are some ways I can save during my holiday shopping?
1) The obvious, shop sales.
2) Obtain coupons from the Sunday paper for most large box stores. Some boutiques and smaller more local stores will place coupons in the actually newspaper pages, so check there as well.
3) Buy bulk items such as $100 in $5 coffee shop gift cards to give to people who you want to show appreciation for (think the mail man, a delivery driver, friends, favorite store owners, or other service men and women you utilize).
Question 3: How can I plan now for next year?
1) Start saving now – Set up a separate bank account and direct an allotted amount of money each pay period to that account. You can make this automatic by setting up payroll deduction (if your employer allows it), bill pay, automatic transfers, or checking account transfers. It is often helpful to set up this account somewhere you don’t normally bank because then you will be less tempted to spend it on non holiday gift purchases. You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? It comes in very handy when saving money.
2) Shop the after holiday sales (end of December beginning of January). Often after the December holidays are over, items are deeply discounted in stores, many over 50% off. So be watchful this year and see if you can’t grab a couple of gifts for next year.
3) Ask your family about drawing names for gifting next year. Put everyone’s name in a hat and draw. Whoever’s name you draw is who you shop for. As a family, you can set a dollar amount limit on the gift and it can often be higher than you would normally spend on one person’s gift because you will not have to shop for everyone. If the family agrees to draw names, plan to do so by Thanksgiving so everyone has enough time to find the perfect gift.
Lastly, don’t let the stress of gift buying distract you from the real purpose of the holidays – spending time with loved ones, family and friends.