Sunday, December 7, 2008

6 tips for Sticking to Your Budget This Christmas

Every year there are reports on the news about how deeply in debt people become every Christmas. It is possible to have a nice Christmas without maxing out the credit cards. Here are a few simple tips that could save you a bundle.

Hide the credit cards

By not using credit cards you are already a step ahead of the game. There’s
no worry about the interest and all those payments that come due after the first of the year. If you are already using credit cards carefully you might be able to continue using them for Christmas gifts, just be sure to pay it off when the bill comes due.

Make a list

Sit down and make a list of all the people you would like to give gifts. Once the list is made, stick to it. Decide how much to spend on each person and write it beside each name. Then when you go shopping there will be a price range for each gift. It will help avoid overspending. Even a dollar over expected spending can add up if there is a large shopping list.

Draw names

Many families help cut back on holiday spending by drawing names. Each person in the family only shops for one other person whose name they have drawn. Instead of buying several gifts, even if they are inexpensive, each person can get one nicer gift. This makes shopping easier too.
Instead of trying to fill a huge list, just take your time and focus on getting that "perfect" gift for just one person.

Shop ahead

Get organized and have good hiding places. By doing this you can purchase Christmas gifts all year round, taking advantage of after Christmas sales, out of season and clearance sales.

Go ahead and wrap and label the gifts. This helps keep people from seeing what was purchased and you won't forget which gift was for whom.


Some stores offer a lay-away program, so you can pay a little at a time each month. By doing this, you can budget things out over a period of time. By combining this with the list and budget plan, you can cut out the interest incurred using credit cards and still make a monthly payment.

Gift cards

While gift cards are convenient for gift giving, many people feel they are impersonal. Gift cards can also help you shop on a budget, if shopping ahead of time. Purchase the gift cards in the amount you can afford each week or month. Tuck them away in an envelope in a safe place until
you have the amount needed to purchase the gifts. You can keep an eye out for sales on certain items this way, as well. Be sure to check to see if the cards have an expiration date. Some expire after a certain time once activated and others have no expiration date at all. Some are even "rechargeable" and more money can be added as needed.

No matter what plan you choose, the best thing is to get organized and plan ahead. Spur of the moment shopping is the worst for anyone's budget. It's too easy to just grab something on impulse and blow the best of intentions.

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