Put a Jingle in Your Christmas

So you think saving is hard enough during the year, and you can’t imagine trying to save money during the Christmas season – aka “tis the season to be spending”? Plus, you just expect to sing the blues with the January bills?

Saving during the holidays isn’t impossible, providing you clean up some of those sloppy financial habits and get creative. Here are 4 steps to take.

1. Consider your holiday spending personality with this checklist:

What are your holiday patterns – Do you like to shop for gifts, wrap them, entertain, decorate, bake/cook, and/or party hearty? Do you prepare or procrastinate?

Do you:

• Stick to a spending limit or leave it open-ended?

• Buy gifts for everyone who’s anyone?

• Spend time to find just the “right” gift for each recipient?

• Shop early, search for sales or wait until the last-minute?

• Want to spend an equal amount on everyone?

• Want to be “best” gifter, “best” baker, “best” host AND life of the party?

• Strive to “keep-up-with-the-Joneses” and have a mental checklist?

• Find things for yourself as you’re looking for others?

• Make numerous donations for various causes?

2. After you have an idea how you might spend, make a budget.

Who needs a budget? Anyone who’s spending! In addition to buying gifts, also earmark money for those often unseen expenses:

  1. Extra groceries for entertaining and baking
  2. Hostess gifts
  3. Transportation
  4. Decorating
  5. Appearance (new accessories, manicure, dry cleaning)
  6. Eating out, including alcohol
  7. Unexpected incidentals

So…you’ve made that budget. What more is there?

3. Planning ahead is everything!

Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Plan to make your money go farther – Check for sales
  2. Plan to shop with a list – to stick to your budget
  3. Plan to use coupons and frequent shopper rewards
  4. Plan ATM visits – to avoid fees
  5. Plan to not overdraw accounts – avoid overdraft fees

Not planning your time costs you:

  1. Snacks to eat – high-priced stops to curb hunger can bust a budget
  2. Wrapping gifts – many retailers wrap for free if you have time to wait
  3. Shipping costs – avoid last-minute rush pricing, and ship direct if ordering on-line
  4. Group your shopping trips – Plan to use less gas and time
  5. Use cash – and avoid credit card fees in January
  6. Plan enough time so you aren’t rushing – Accidents cost too!
  7. Stress is a cost of not planning. So avoid the last-minute panic, disappointment, fights, depression, stomachache, overeating binge, and the “January bills” blues.

 4. Creativity Counts…and might save some money as well.

• Make some gifts – presents or presence??

• Learn a skill, give a skill.

• Magical touches – wrapping, cards, photos, surprises

• Co-op with others-baking, writing cards, making crafts.

• Make some memories – Party together, photo books, open houses, nativity scenes

• Make some TIME – texting doesn’t count (call Mom), do lunch with someone

• Make a tradition (bake cookies with your friend)

Let Christmas spending and giving bring out your best financial behavior, not your worst.

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