Recently in Nashville, the air has turned brisk at night and is definitely beginning to cool off during the day. In my mind it is nature’s way of saying it is time to stock up for winter. For many this may mean it is time to set aside money for holiday spending as well.
If you have not done so already, this would be a very good time to try to plan out what you are going to purchase as far as gifts are concerned related to the holidays and perhaps plan what you are going to do/where are you going to go if you plan on going anywhere. The reason is that often with proper planning you can avoid some of the needless emotional spending that can beleaguer last minute shoppers by trying to impress with an expensive gift when it is possible that they could have gotten more bang for their buck by using some forethought.
Depending on where you look for your statistics, the average American household plans on spending around $700 on food, gifts and decorations for the holidays. This does not include any travel expenses that may be associated with visiting family, etc. Please note that if $700 represents the average household, then a good percentage will spend substantially more on these items. This is also assuming that people are not deciding to pay for these purchases with credit that they do not intend to pay off immediately. In the case of credit purchases, the interest can rack up and easily add a substantial amount over time.
Here are some tips then to be thinking about to have pleasant holidays and not worry about the bills that may be coming in January.
- Plan out a list of people for whom you plan to purchase gifts. Set yourself a budget. Is there something that you can give them that would be small and meaningful that they would honestly appreciate and enjoy? How do you think they would feel if you wrote them a sincere note or if you fixed them something special yourself whether homemade cookies or something else? As a personal suggestion, if you are considering giving gift cards because they are so much easier to give than taking the time to find out what someone would truly appreciate, consider giving cash instead. It offers greater flexibility and rarely goes to waste.
- Plan on setting aside a portion of your paycheck for holiday gifts. By planning ahead and setting a portion aside, chances are greater that there will not be the need to have to rely upon credit cards to pay for purchases. I will suggest that not having to stare down credit card bills in January makes any holiday season brighter.
- Consider moonlighting if the budget is tight and you feel the need to give various gifts. It can be a way to provide enough money to pay for the holidays. Please note that if your budget is stretched so thin on a regular basis that you feel the need to moonlight for your holiday expenses, you may want to revisit your regular budget and try to determine if there is something that should be cut.
- Try to plan your purchases ahead of the last minute holiday rush. Chances are that you will have a greater chance to make the purchases that you want rather than having to deal with the mad holiday dash. Though I suppose there may be some out there who like the idea of waiting in lines of scrambling with others to be one of the few to get item X. If such is the case, feel free to disregard this last suggestion.
By planning out your holiday expenses beforehand and putting aside money for these expenses, there is a good chance you will make your holidays brighter and quite possibly save several hundreds of dollars in either well thought out purchases or avoided interest payments. Should this article inspire you to save a considerable amount of money, please consider this my early holiday present to you.
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