Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tips for Not Getting into a Spending Frenzy during the Holidays

It's so hard! This time of year we are bombarded with advertisements, beautiful decorations, holiday music piped through the store speakers. All to entice us to spend our hard-earned dollars to create that magical season for our family and friends. Yes...absolutely magical....except for the checkbook!

I typically watch myself turn into a "spender" during the month of December. Any other month, I would research, bargain-hunt, and coupon. Maybe it's the fact that so much has to be done in just a few short weeks, but my frugal ways usually fly out the window! I don't want my extended family to think I'm a "cheapskate". I want my kids to still believe in the magic...and so far they do! I don't think the people on my gift-giving list should suffer just because I've made mistakes with the credit cards in the past.

How do we fight all these behaviors when we're trying to pay off our debt? I'm posting this today on the eve of the eve of shopping mania, and we'll re-check throughout the holiday season to see if I can come out without any more debt!

1. Make a budget! This is probably the most important part of the whole process. List everyone you will be giving gifts to and a maximum dollar amount for that person.

2. Save throughout the year. It's kind of late for this if you didn't start this a year ago. But each month, I set aside one-twelfth of my Christmas budget in a savings account. I'm not sure if my budget is too high (might be) or not, but I have saved $105 every month since last Christmas which gives me $1260 to spend during the holidays. This includes any decorations we buy for our home, the cost of Christmas cards and postage, and all gifts.

3. This is where I hit my downfall....updating the budget at the end of each shopping excursion. Life seems to get so busy that I don't take the time to check my receipts against the budget. Many years, I don't add it all up until AFTER Christmas. That kind of defeats the purpose, huh?

4. Shop early. I have noticed that some of the better deals happen before Thanksgiving. I've taken advantage of Lands End free shipping for a couple of gifts during November. I don't know what will happen this year, but I remember kicking myself last year for waiting until December and paying full shipping when they had offered free shipping just a few weeks earlier.

I am really hoping that I can come out on the other side UNDER budget, and be able to use part of that money I've saved to apply toward my debt. Updates will follow. In the meantime, please add your tips for not getting into the spending frenzy!!! I can use all the help I can get!

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