Monday, October 17, 2011

Money Saving Tips For Holiday Gifts

The Christmas holiday season will be here before we know it. It is always a challenging time for families who are trying hard to stick to a budget. I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips we've learned over the years that have helped us stay on track with our other financial goals. I will try to list a few tips each Monday for the next few weeks as the holiday approaches. 

Tip #1 - Set a holiday gift budget. It is more difficult if you set one large lump sum and never break it down. We usually build up to reach our big number. We set an amount to spend for each child and another amount to spend on each other.We then consider how much we'll put toward extended family gifts, neighborhood gifts, and teacher gifts for the school children. We also set aside an amount we use for charitable giving during the holiday season. Other things to consider is an amount for decorations and specialty holiday foods. If there is something else you traditionally spend money on, add a category for it. One area might be holiday travel. We are blessed to have family in the area so we don't find ourselves traveling at Christmas time, but I know there are many families that do.

Add all these areas together to determine how much your holiday budget is. If it is higher than you will be able to save for, you need to make some adjustments. The holidays cannot be considered an "EMERGENCY" - you cannot pull from emergency savings to cover holiday expenses. You know they are coming every year so you need to begin to plan for them.

Once I have set my budget, I begin shopping and watching sales and clearance racks. I really try to have most of my shopping done by the middle of November so I can enjoy the holiday events and not be tempted to purchase last minute items that always push me over budget.

This is enough to get you thinking. I'll share more thoughts next week - 

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