Every January we say the same old thing, why did I spend so much? This year I am going to keep a budget, I am going to keep it simple, not spend that much. It happens so much that we are destined to have it repeat again and again. But there are ways to stop this cycle. Americans are not great savers, more than two thirds have no retirement savings let alone short to medium range savings plans in place for emergencies. So it is no wonder that after the holiday season, we are in a big financial bind when those bills come rolling in.
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FACTORS TO CONSIDER
There are ways in which you can reduce the stress and cut these bills down to size. Or spread them out over the year so as not to impact your short term budget plans.
- Who To Buy For
- How Much to Spend
- Where to Spend It
- When to Pay for It
START SHOPPING EARLY
If you know who you are going to buy for, and you know them well enough you can start shopping now for the next holiday season, finding cheep deals now as opposed to during the holidays is easy to do, in January and February retail stores go into deep discount mode. You barely realize this because of the hangover from the holiday shopping season, but compare the prices on some things such as electronics and clothes, two of the most popular items.
Most things that you can buy will last forever, so don’t worry about it sitting around all year, and fashion trends don’t change that much, so the clothes that you buy in March will still be good in December. And like mentioned, if you know the person you are buying for well, you will know what they like, and chances are those tastes are not going to change all to much.
Using coupons or rewards from your credit cards that you have amassed is a great way to shop, and because sometimes during the holiday shopping season some of those coupons or credit card awards are shut down, using them off season to get the holiday shopping done and out of the way you can save big time. And if you use a credit card, the balance could be paid off before the holidays come around, and how nice would that be for a change, to not have to worry about maxed out cards. And if you get things done early, you can avoid all the hectic rushing around and fighting the crowds. You can relax and do something for yourself for a change, since you have everyone else out of the way.
PUT MONEY ASIDE ALL YEAR
Perhaps you just can’t motivate yourself to get into the holiday spirit in February to go out and shop for next year, that is okay, you do not have to buy right now, but a great plan would be to set aside some money from each pay check for the amount you plan on spending come that time. If you do this then you can avoid the pitfall of having to charge all the gifts and once again feel the pain come January of another season come and gone and another huge stack of credit card bill glaring at you, with their due dates and high interest rates.
Set out to list all who you plan on buying for, and set a monetary limit, take that amount and divide it by the number of pay periods you have between now and when you will start shopping and that is the amount you want to set aside throughout the year to cover that expense. Easy as pie.
IN AN EMERGENCY
If all else fails, and none of the three above work out, then you can get a triage going and still save yourself some heartache and wallet pain with an emergency plan. If you can manage to set aside $50 to $75 a week for 10 to 12 weeks before the holidays you will have a good chunk to use to buy those gifts, and still avoid the credit card trap.
Don’t mire yourself in credit card debt in January, you need to set out on a smart and economical plan and budget each and every year, doing so will give you the freedom from debt, freedom from stress, well at least holiday shopping stress, and give you piece of mind. And once you have made that change, you can use your new saving skill, or shopping skill to plan for something else, like a well deserved vacation of big ticket item like a remodel of your house or a new car, so don’t fall into that same old debt pattern each and every year and follow these steps to success.