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Thread: Say Bah, Humbug! To Holiday Debt
09-03-2008, 11:43 AM #1
Say Bah, Humbug! To Holiday Debt
Say Bah, Humbug! To Holiday 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
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.
* 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. Send only cards to distant relatives, neighbors
you don't know well and business owners who haven't bought from you this year.
* 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.
* 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
* 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
* 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 wrap 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, 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 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
Michael G. Peterson is the Vice President of American Credit Foundation, an
IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit consumer credit counseling organization that has
assisted thousands of individuals and families with their financial situations
through seminars, education, counseling services, and debt management plans.Cutie-Pie
09-04-2008, 10:50 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
- in front of my computer Silly!
- Blog Entries
Another thing that I've been doing the last couple of years is keeping a list of my friends and family members favorite Magazines. When I come across them on the internet in the freebies list, I sign them up for the free ones. Last year my sister got Cosmo (from me- for free) and her husband got 2 different sporting mags that he loves.
They were thrilled to receive them and it didn't cost me anything but a minute of my time.~* B101 Sistah *~