Monday, October 22, 2012

8 Steps For Holiday Money Smiles

Every year we plan to enjoy the holidays with less frantic shopping, more memorable time spent with family and friends, and staying on budget.  Once we hit the day after Thanksgiving, all plans are off.  How can this year be different?
Plans are great, and written plans are the ones that are more likely to succeed.  Here are some suggestions to consider.  Start writing your plan now:

ü  Write out a budget of what you plan to spend, including decorations  (avg $40) and food (avg $85).
ü  If the money isn’t already set aside, there’s still time.  The average planned holiday amount is $689.  O.K., so you started a bit late this year.  Set aside $75 a week for the next 6 weeks, you’ll have $450 by Black Friday.
ü  Use cash (not debit cards).  You’ll spend an average of $180 more if you use plastic. Hide credit cards until 2013.
ü  Don’t fall for the impulse purchases – keep a printed list or put a list on your smart phone and stick with it.
ü  Stores offer credit cards with discounts because they sell more to you – don’t do it!
ü  Focus on happiness – discuss your plans with friends and family. Have a potluck or cookie party and recipe exchange.  Encourage smaller exchanges for our kids who already have too many toys. 
ü  Be creative – yeah crafts, cooking, baking are always appreciated.  Creativity extends to funding gifts, too.  Use reward points, re-gift unused gift cards, or use them to shop for gifts.
ü  After-holiday sales are great if you need it and include it in your spending plan. Return gifts promptly for refunds, use money and gift cards to make purchases.  Still keep those credit cards out of reach.
 Remember, right down your spending plan right now.  Keep it handy and get through the season smoothly and with happy recollections of 2012.