With the holiday season in full swing, it is easy for stressed consumers to stop paying attention to their budget. They may give in to the temptation to pull out their credit cards and assume they will figure out how to pay for things when the bills come in January. If you are trying to get through the holiday season without incurring additional credit card debt, CESI has some last minute holiday shopping tips to keep you free of debt stress.
Holiday gift-giving can be a wonderful experience, especially when you are able to bring joy to someone else’s life without hurting your own because of overspending. There’s no joy in poor money management skills that result in overspending and deep debt.
Tips for last minute holiday shopping tips that keep you free of debt stress:
- Consider creative gift-giving: When it comes to gifts, we all know it’s the thought that counts. Consider gifts that have a personal touch, such as homemade gifts like cookies, candies or other prepared foods. Consider making a fruit basket, which is both economical and healthy. And a personal gift certificate good for your time and talents such as babysitting, washing the car, running errands, or cooking a meal are always appreciated.
- Make a shopping list and pay with cash. Stick to your shopping list and spending limit! A realistic budget is essential for keeping spending under control. Pay with cash when possible and leave your checkbook and credit cards at home to avoid temptations for unplanned and unnecessary purchases. Remember, just because it is on sale, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Curb the urge to spend just because an item is on sale.
- Keep track of your spending. Tally the receipts from all holiday expenses, including gifts, postage, meals, entertainment, and decorations. Once you’ve completed your shopping list, stop shopping! More mall time can amount to more spending. Those who have kept to their budgets will start the year with less debt and less stress.
- Do your homework before you purchase. Can you find that same gift online from a different retailer? Does the retailer you are going to purchase from offer any coupon codes you can use? Is free shipping an option? It’s not uncommon these days for retailers to price-match their competitors and even allow you to stack coupons. You can save money by doing a little bit of legwork before you buy.
- If you have a large family or friend group that you typically purchase for, suggest a gift exchange instead. Everyone can draw the name of one individual to shop for instead of buying gifts for everyone in the group. There are a variety of ways you can facilitate an exchange, and most people will appreciate eliminating the stress of purchasing multiple gifts.
- Don’t forget to consider the money you spend on food and entertainment. Consider ways to save on holiday entertaining costs as well as gifts.
Even those with the best of intentions may end the holiday shopping season with more debt than you planned. Remember, you don’t have to solve your financial problems alone. CESI has trained and certified credit counselors who offer financial management and debt reduction services as a nonprofit, community-based organization and a Member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC). Contact us for help today!