Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to survive (budget busting) holiday shopping and have fun doing it

Macy's department store in my town has been playing Christmas music over the PA system for a month but it's the week of Thanksgiving when retailers amp up the holiday shopping season with a frenzy of "day after" bargains and loss leaders that have people up at 4 a.m. and in line for the deals.
For many of us holiday shopping is not only dangerous to our household budgets, but really stressful.
So I offer these FIVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING TIPS for reducing stress, staying on budget and enjoying the season.

Tip No. 1......Take time to make a list of what you want to buy for people and set spending limits per person ....BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING. Having a plan keeps you honest and lowers the stress.

Tip No. 2 ... Plan ahead for those purchases by scanning newspaper advertising inserts, by looking at all those catalogues that pour into the mail box and by scanning online shopping sites for ideas that fit your price range. Compare prices, look at sale items. Make a list of items that match your budget in advance.....don't waver from the list. Just say NO to the impulse buy. Don't leave shopping to the last minute...that's the most dangerous and the most stressful. Bankrate.com offers ideas for stretching your budget.

Tip No. 3.....Don't give money to your children IF you should be saving that money for your own long-term investment and retirement needs. This is a challenge for mothers and grandmothers, especially, but you've got to make sure you are on good financial footing before you give money to your kids.

Tip No. 4.... Put a note to yourself in your wallet that says something like "WHAT AM I DOING HERE? WHAT IS MY BUDGET? WHAT IS THE HOLIDAY SEASON REALLY ABOUT?" as a way to remind yourself that this is a special time of year and the gift-buying is only a part of it. For more quotes about money, click here.

Tip No. 5....Consider giving gifts to a favorite charity in the name of someone who may have everything. For example, my most memorable gift last year was a donation made in my name to Heifer International. The organization buys milk cows (goats, chickens and pigs) and gives them to people in Third World countries to increase and sustain their food sources. People in my family know I grew up on a farm and love cattle....so the gift was perfect. Being creative with gift-giving is part of the fun of Christmas. So give yourself permission to enjoy that aspect of the season rather than finding ways to spend money on things people may not remember or need.


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