Can you believe that it is almost November??! Not only does that mean we are just 2 short months from winding up our 2011 debt free challenge, it also means the holidays are just about here. For many, that can bring with it stress when thinking of who’s house you will travel to, dealing with those crazy relatives and even financial stress. There’s no need to worry — you can do this!
When we began earlier this year, one thing we mentioned on the budget was to make sure that you include savings for birthdays and holidays. After all, these are not surprise events. You know that they come around on the same day each and every single year. That means you can plan ahead. Hopefully you have been doing good with setting back some money and even shoppin the deals all year long. Even if you are ready, there are some things to keep in mind:
1. No matter how tempting it is, do not use your credit card. Purchasing that high ticket item that brings a smile to someone’s face when they open it is certainly wonderful. However, seeing the frown on your own and the wrinkle in your forehead when the bill arrives in January is not. Winter is dreary enough with a bill still looming.
2. Plan. Plan. Plan. You should have already determined what your spending budget will be for the holiday. Once you know what you can spend, make a list of each person for whom you need to buy. Next to that person’s name, set a dollar spending limit. Add up the limits for everyone and make sure that you have not exceeded your budget. If you find you did, then you will need to make changes. It may mean not purchasing a gift for someone, but perhaps opting for the homemade instead. The holidays are no reason to spend more than you can afford.
3. Double check the deals. Just because something is listed in a weekly ad or has a sale ticket on it, does not mean it really is the best deal. Retailers will mark items down only 5% during the holidays when they will have offered the same item 25% off earlier in the year. Just make sure you do some homework by completing price comparisons. Don’t forget to use price matching when you can. Just make sure you exercise due diligence before you toss that item into your shopping cart.
4. Remember the reason for the season. Giving gifts is wonderful. However, the holiday season is not only about giving gifts. It is a time to celebrate family and spend time with them. If you can’t afford gifts this year for some people, they should understand. After all, they love and care about you and that matters more than a shiny package with their name on it.
As we move into the holidays, I will start to share some idea for gifts you can make yourself. I’ll even share some frugal decorating tips. Watch for details (coming soon) on how you can contribute to our frugal holiday season — I know many of you have some AMAZING ideas!!!