Thursday, November 25, 2010

8 Ways to budget for holiday gifts

Ah, the holidays. There are sales, and promotions and the MOST wonderful things to buy. Isn't gift giving fun? But, what about the BILLS that arrive in January? The shock of having to pay off a credit card that you've spent too much on coupled with the fact that many Americans are struggling with economic issues this year = the need to make smarter decisions.

Lou Scatigna, a financial expert with a show on XM radio - The Financial Physician  says that “The truth is, it can be easier. We all have high expectations for ourselves when the holidays come around, but by simply taking a step back to look at our situations realistically, we can actually plan a joyous holiday without taking ourselves to the poorhouse to do it.”

Some of Lou's ideas include ~

1. Honestly evaluate your current financial situation and determine how much you can spend without going into significant debt 

2. Decide the maximum amount of spending that will be done on credit cards

3. Discuss with your children that during tough times, holiday expenses will be lower than when are good.

4. Start shopping now. This will give you the time to search for sales and bargains, many retailers have already discounted prices. Another reason to start now is you will wind up using more cash and less credit cards because your spreading your buying over 16 weeks instead of 3 or 4.

5. Use the internet. Great bargains can be found because online stores don’t have the traditional brick and mortar overhead of retail stores. Also, it helps you beat the crowds, the parking and the long checkout lines.

6. Instead of buying 3 or 4 expensive gifts, buy a larger number of inexpensive ones.

7. Start a holiday club bank account so next year you will have the cash saved.

8.Restrict gift buying to your immediate family. Those nieces, nephews, Aunts and Uncles can add up, I'm sure they will understand, because they are likely doing the same thing.

The holiday's should be a time to enjoy your family and friends. We need to remember that the gift giving is NOT the important part of the holiday season.

The Financial Physician: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health by Louis Scatigna is a great resource for helping you deal with all of your financial problems, not JUST around the holiday.


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