Monday, November 19, 2012

Avoid a Holiday Shopping "Hangover"

You know that sick feeling you get when you spend too much money? It might happen after you take your purchases home and start to think about them, or it might not happen until you see your credit card statement.

That feeling can be summed up as the I can't believe I spent this much on holiday gifts and how will I ever pay for this! feeling.

Some of us call it a shopping hangover. Sure...the shopping was fun. Music was playing in the stores. You might have been shopping with your friends. Everything was on you didn't spend that much...or did you?

Plan Ahead

This year, plan ahead. You can still be generous...but you'll also stay within your budget. These steps can help you:

1. Determine how much you can spend this holiday season. Think about any gifts that you want to buy for your family and friends, any cards you might buy, and the extras such as wrapping paper.

2. Using that total, draft a detailed budget before you start shopping. The budget should include a line item for each expense that you used to make up your total budgeted amount.

3. Get creative to reduce costs. If you’re creative, perhaps you can make gifts (and even some decorations) rather than buying them.

4. Resist temptation. As good as it feels to be generous, fight the impulse to overspend, even if it looks like the best deal ever.

5. Be flexible. Despite all your best intentions, you may end up spending more than you planned on an item. Rather than wallowing in guilt, find places in your budget to cut to offset the splurge. Check out our previous post for tips.

6. Use cash instead of plastic whenever possible. With cash, you can’t spend what you don’t have.

What About You?

Do you make a budget for your holiday spending? Let us know.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Have a "Green" Holiday!

This holiday season, you can be kind to your wallet and the environment by changing one thing. Instead of spending money on wrapping paper, try one of these alternatives:

Newspaper – Don't laugh! My cousins and I did this when we were in college and we barely had enough money to buy gifts. Use the Sunday comics section and your package will be covered in lots of colors. You can always add a ribbon or bow; both of those items can often be reused.

Reused gift bags or paper – If you receive a present in a gift bag, save the bag and use it for a gift that you're giving. And, if you open a present carefully, you might be able to reuse some larger sheets of wrapping paper.

Cloth – If someone in your family sews, you might be able to use some larger pieces of scrap material to wrap a gift. An alternative that costs a little bit of money is to purchase some remnants of material at a local fabric or craft store.

Festive towels – This choice costs a little bit of money, but it gives a the recipient an extra giftand the "wrapping" won't be tossed in the trash. You can often find festive holiday hand towels at discount stores. Or you can wait for the post-holiday sale and buy some to use next year.

Too Late?

Okay, maybe you planned ahead and bought your paper or gift bags on sale at one of those "after the holiday" sales last year. That's good; you saved some money. In that case, try these tips next year. Then you can give your wallet and the environment a break!

What About You?

What other ways can you save money and be kind to the environment this holiday season?