by Deneen Cunningham, McVagh Cunningham Group Ltd. –
You’ve crunched the numbers, and after careful review, you may feel like turning into Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season to avoid a painful debt hangover again. By planning ahead, you can still experience the joy of giving while achieving greater financial peace of mind.
1. Set money aside. It’s never too early to save. Try factoring next year’s holiday budget into your current monthly savings plan.
2. Create a budget. Make a list of all the people to buy for and allocate how much to spend on each person. Take time to think about what you will buy for them before heading to the shops – you’re more likely to overspend and get sidetracked without a concrete idea in mind. It’s also stressful shopping for a long list of people unprepared.
3. Shop early. Impulse or last-minute buying can be costly. Keep an eye out for sales, search for store promo codes online and consider cashing in loyalty rewards points for gift certificates.
4. Consider alternatives. A gift from the heart can be both more meaningful and more affordable than material items. Take a creative approach to gift giving next holiday season where you can. Only providing gifts for children under a certain age is an option that can shorten your shopping list.
5. Track your spending. Document your spending as you go. By doing this, you’ll avoid any costly surprises when the bills start to arrive. If things start to look tight, you’ll still have time to rethink your list and make adjustments where necessary. Remember – even a great sale item isn’t a bargain if you don’t have the cash to pay for it!
6. Go cash-only. It’s easy to overindulge when making purchases with credit. Take a break from your credit cards this month and avoid this situation altogether by withdrawing cash to cover your expenses.
7. Bring in more money. Take inventory of your household items – electronics, clothes, sports equipment, knick-knacks, etc. – and sell things you no longer need or want. It may seem like a lot of work, but $10 here and there is money you didn’t have before. Also consider picking up additional shifts at work or finding a part-time job until you pay off your debt.
8. Evaluate your subscriptions. Review your expenses for recurring monthly charges – are there any services you can cut or modify, even temporarily? Consider things like cable and unused memberships. Transfer the money you save to debt repayment or savings.