Christmas season is just around the corner! Here are a few tips to enjoy your Christmas, avoid debt, stay on budget, save money and not look like a Scrooge.
1. Set a Budget and Make a List
You should have a budget for all your expenditures, and that that includes your Christmas purchases. Budgets put a limit on expenses, and that is always a good thing. Stick to your budget. Making a shopping list should go hand-in-hand with setting a budget. Write down the names of family and friends you will be buying gifts for, and how much you plan to spend. Notice that I have my budget before my list because my budget determines what shows up on my list!
2. Start Saving Early
You now have a budget, start saving to fund it. Christmas should not arrive suddenly. Plan to save and fund your holiday shopping without racking up debt. You can put your “Christmas Fund” in a high-interest savings account while you are at it.
3. Start Buying Early
Deals for different items are available at different times of the year. Based on your budget and list, keep your eyes open all year round for very good deals. Some of the best deals are available after Christmas – Boxing Day – you can start buying items like Christmas cards, wrapping papers, gift sets to stock up for next Christmas!
4. Go Discount Shopping
Lots of deals are available during the Christmas season. Since you already have a list, do not miss the steep discounts that may be available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. You can sign up with your preferred stores to get advance notice of sales. Watch out for discounted gift cards (as much as 30% in discounts).
Look for discount codes and coupons online. Use price comparison sites to ensure you are getting the best deals (Shopbot.ca, Pricefinder.ca, Pricegrabber.com, and Shopzilla.com). Remember to do your research, not every “deal” is a good deal.
5. Use Free Shipping
Look for free shipping offers by major online stores like Amazon. If you make your purchases early, you can have your gifts delivered before or by Christmas eve. Planning your gift shopping well ahead of time can save you lots of money in shipping and avoid the hassle of late deliveries.
6. DIY Christmas Gifts
Put your inner genius and creativity to work by making your own gifts. You can handcraft your holiday cards, bakes some cookies, etc. This will add a personalized touch and may save you some bucks.
7. Pay with Cash
Nothing adds a dose of reality to your expenses like paying cash. Ditch the credit and debit cards and pay for your purchases with good old cash and it may help you stick to your budget.
8. Get Cash Back or Reward Points
If you can stay disciplined with using your credit card, you can maximize cash back and rewards points this Christmas. Use credit cards without a hefty annual fee and ensure that you pay off your balance in full within the grace period.
9. Give to Charity
Use this holiday season to remember those in need and other good causes – this is right in line with the Spirit of Christmas! Let friends and family know that you will be making donations in their name to a charity of their choosing. Trust me, they will appreciate your kind gesture!
10. Consider a No-Gifts Christmas
Okay, I know! The kids are expecting Santa Claus to drop gifts via the chimney. And, that okay! Instead of gifts for the adults in your life, this season, consider getting together, catching up, and having fun. Call family and friends that live abroad. They will appreciate your good gesture.
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember to take good care of yourself. Find some time to rest, to reflect, and to plan for the New Year. Happy Christmas in advance!
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