Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting Ready For The Holidays...

It is that time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner and many of us are anxious because gifts have to be made or purchased and budgets are tighter this year than probably any other year you remember! It may be a temptation for you to go into major credit card debt to make Christmas "special" for those you love. The problem is, that come January, those "now due" credit card bills are going to put a tremendous strain on you and your family!

With a little planning on your part and a pocket sized notebook to keep everything in order, you can avoid starting off the year going into debt. I propose that this year, we put Christmas in perspective, trim our lists and our budgets a bit and focus on it's true meaning. Does that mean not to buy presents for the people we love? Of course not! But DO sit down and work out how much Christmas you can afford without plastic and then STICK TO IT!!!

There are quite a few reasons people go into debt. Some of them may include:
  1. They want to give their kids every gift they could ever want.
  2. They forget what gifts they have already bought, end up buying extra and never return any of them.

  3. They feel the need to give the biggest, best, most creative presents in the neighborhood.

  4. Lack of planning means too much money is spent on easily remembered people and the forgotten gifts get charged towards the end.

Well, it's time to dump our hangups with a simple, more frugal Christmas. This is a year we all want to be a little more careful. After all, who knows where the economy is going to take us six months, or even one month from now! Today I simply want to get you thinking. It's early enough at this point to make changes that can turn your Christmas around.

The VERY first step to making your holidays (and especially the new year) brighter is to accept this one rule that absolutely CAN NOT be broken.


If you can't afford to pay for it with cash, DON'T BUY IT! No exceptions! So first, get yourself a little tiny pocket notebook that fits in your purse. This will be where you can write anything Christmas related such as:

  1. The EXACT dollar amount you come up with, (include your spouse on this decision if applicable), that you can afford to spend on Christmas Gifts this year. (Remember, CASH ONLY!)
  2. A list of EVERYONE you want to give a present to. Next to the names allocate a SPECIFIC amount of money from the total dollar amount you came up with.

  3. A list of people you want to give baked goods or something, (not too expensive), that you make yourself.

  4. A list of GIFTS you have already purchased to which you will add any and all gifts that you pick up.

  5. Ingenious gift IDEAS that you come up with on the fly.

Now remember... if you forget to put someone on the list initially and add them later that is fine, but you may have to re-allocate funds if this happens and you have already assigned all your money out! Perhaps you should budget to have a little to the side just in case that happens. :)

For the next six weeks my goal is to try and deliver frequent tips and ideas that I hope can make your Christmas a little less expensive and perhaps even a lot more fun! We are going to work at shaving dollars here and there to make your Christmas heavier on the MERRY and lighter on the wallet! Be sure to come back and visit and please share this website with anyone you think could use a little help this holiday season... and as always, don't forget to share YOUR tips for simplifying Christmas too :)


R Clan said...

I wish there was a stick figure I can place right here that shows me bowing down to you. "You are my leader (said in a robot voice)." Thank you so much for giving helping me on this. I am trying to figure out where to begin and I think you have helped me out.

James and Cassidee said...

Thank you so much! I am going to make my Christmas budget right now! I look forward to your tips!

The Mom @ Babes in Hairland said...

You are so right. Since we've got kids now and the urge to spend plenty of $ is tempting, for the past many years we put $ away every single month in a Christmas fund so by the end of the year we have a good chunk of change set aside for our family, extended family and any charity stuff we hope to do. That way there is no debt incurred. I realize not everyone can do that, but even if you're putting $25 away each month it does add up by the end of the year and is a bit extra $ you probably wouldn't have had. That's our way of avoiding the credit card trap! :)

HollyOak said...

I have a tip to share, though it isn't much good for this year's Christmas shopping... It's similar to The Mom @ Babes comment...

I have been doing a little Christmas Saving Plan this year and it has helped immensely.

1) Set an amount to come out of each pay check-- this can be based on what you think you want to have by Christmas Time, or on how much you can afford to take out of each check. I'm doing $10 a check. (That's a couple of fast food meals a month that I eat at home instead.)

2)Put it in its very own savings account so you're not as tempted to use it. Some Credit Unions offer a Certificate you can open with a small amount of money and earn extra interest. (Cyprus is one) Invest in a 6 or 9 month certificate to avoid the temptation of using the money, and to earn a little extra in interest.

3)When the CD matures, it should be just about time to shop for Christmas!

This has worked wonders for me this year and I plan to do it again every year going forward. :)

Higleys said...

Thanks, I'll look for the next tip

Tammy said...

thank you thank you thank you!!