Sweating Christmas

We know, we know – you’re just getting through school shopping season. Who’s thinking about the holidays?!

Image courtesy of cescassawin  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cescassawin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s the thing – according to the National Retail Federation, 41.4% of us will begin shopping before Halloween.

Yikes. 

That 41.4% stat got all of us at Lutheran Social Services Consumer Credit Counseling Service thinking about spending plans.

Have you checked yours lately? 

With summer trips, school supplies, and the latest iPhone about to hit stores – are you spending your money where you want to? What are your short, medium, and long-term goals?

If you are a retailer, now is not the time to begin playing holiday music at your store. If you are a shopper, however, now is the time to begin planning how you are going to spend your holiday bucks.

Here are a few tips so you don’t sweat this Christmas:

  1. Create a spending plan for the months of November and December. Subtract your living and debt expenses from your monthly take-home pay. The amount left gives you an idea of how much you can afford to budget for the holidays.
  2. Make a list of all those people whom you need or want to buy gifts, even if they are small gifts, because these can add up quickly. Include the money that will be spent on cards, postage, wrapping, holiday decorations, parties and entertainment.
  3. Avoid last-minute shopping, as it can lead to more spending. Plan your shopping in advance and try to have your shopping done by early December.
  4. Look for shopping deals. Check out newspapers and the internet for special discounts, sales and deals. Think about buying some holiday purchases in bulk, splitting the cost with family and friends.
  5. Consider giving creative gifts. Think about giving gifts that are hand-made by you or your family like fruit baskets, cookies, a decoration, etc. Such gifts are less expensive and have a more personal touch to them.
  6. Whenever possible, pay with cash. This way you can keep track of the money you have spent and how much is left. In addition, leave your credit cards and check book home. This will keep you from unnecessary and unplanned purchases.
  7. If you need to use a credit card, use one with minimum fees and the lowest interest rate. Remember that credit cards provide short-term loans so try to pay them as quickly as possible.  Set a three-month limit to payoff.
  8. Buy only what you need and what is on your list. Avoid the temptation to buy huge mark-downs, great deals and sales, no matter how tempting they look.
  9. Once done with shopping, try to limit visits to the mall as this often ends up with more shopping and buying things just because they are on sale.

If your spending plan needs a tune-up, call us. We’re here to help – 888-258-2227 or cccs@LssSD.org.

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