Thomas Murphy - Pine Shores Real Estate

Posted by Thomas Murphy on 12/2/2011

The season of giving is here but wanting to give can lead to financial disaster. Making a plan that doesnít have your generosity get the better of you will take time and discipline. Here are ten tips to keep your holiday spending in check and keep you on budget. 1. Decide how much you choliday spendingan spend You canít spend a dime until you have assessed how much disposable income you have available. If possible, only spend money that you have. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related expenses this year. Take that $688.87 and put it on a credit card with an 18% APR. At the minimum monthly payment, you will be paying that $688.87 for three years. That $688.87 has also now cost you an additional $203.00 in interest. The best plan is to save all year for holiday spending. If it is too late for that, start cutting back on extras like dinner out, buying lunch and stopping at the coffee store until the holidays are over. 2. Make a list and check it twice Make a list of everyone that will get a gift. No matter how big or small you will need to know how much you will need to buy. Donít forget the office swap, teacher gifts, mail carriers and other last minute items. 3. Set a budget Once you have determined how much disposable income you have you will be able to set a budget. Remember it isnít just the cost of the gifts that add up during the holidays. Consider gas, parking, holiday cards, postage, holiday clothes, and impulse buys. All of these items should be included in your budget. 4. Decision time Not only will you have to set an overall budget you will want to set a budget for each person on your list. It may even help to try to brainstorm some gifts for that person that fit in the budget. You may also decide at this point to trim down your list. Get creative; give cards, homemade gifts or even a framed photo. Gifts from the heart may mean just as much and cost very little. 5. Set expectations If there is a budget concern talk to the people in your life and see if there is a way you can all save on holiday giving. Some families do swaps or pick names so each member only has to buy one gift instead of many. You may also just decide to skip gifts all together. 6. Early shopping can pay off Look for early bird sales. Often late November and early December bring sales. Research the prices of the items you want to buy so you will know how to spot a deal. Look for ways to save on other items such as gift wrapping. Some stores offer free wrapping which saves money and time. 7. Donít buy on emotion If you stick to your list you are less likely to make an emotional purchase. Try taking a friend or family member along who is aware of your budget. They may be able to help you stay on task and guide you away from impulse purchases. 8. Donít get fooled by sales If a gift on your list is on sale, buy it. If it's not, stay away. Sales can lure you into buying something that is not on your list and quickly put you over budget. 9. Shop online Online shopping can offer savings that brick and mortar stores often cannot. Many online stores often have holiday sales and promo codes. When shopping online be careful to stay on budget as you will have to use a credit card. 10. Keep track of spending Keep a journal with all of your spending. In your journal put an envelope to hold all of your receipts. You may want to only use cash for your holiday spending. If your budget is $500 and you put $500 in your wallet and spent only that money it will be a lot easier to stay on track. Have you started your holiday shopping? If so, what are your best tips to staying on budget?

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