The temptation to overspend during the holidays is strong, and store credit cards with discounts and promotional financing only make that temptation stronger. If you want to earn rewards, get a good cash-back credit card instead, and focus on sticking to a budget this holiday season.
To help keep your cheer intact before and after the holidays, we’ve compiled a few tips on being generous without inviting disaster.
If you want to save money, this is the time to make your resolutions, not after the New Year.
Cut your gift list. The easiest way to reduce how much you spend during the holidays is to exchange gifts with fewer people than you have in the past. Be honest: Aren’t there a few people on your list that you question year after year? Make this the year you put an end to it. You might even talk to those people in advance and agree that, in the name of saving money and reducing stress, you won’t exchange gifts but will get together to do something you both enjoy such as taking a stroll around the lake on Christmas afternoon.
Find alternatives to purchased gifts. Maybe stopping cold turkey on a gift-exchange with certain people doesn’t feel right. But you don’t have to go overboard, and you certainly aren’t obligated to buy a gift. Granted, it’s a natural temptation, especially when you’re bombarded by relentless advertising telling you that the expense of a gift is the measure of the feeling behind it. But try being creative with alternatives: homemade treats, a coupon for your services such as babysitting, pre-addressed and stamped envelopes so an older person can easily keep in touch, a family photo, or a tax-deductible contribution to a charity are all thoughtful gifts sure to be appreciated.
Make a budget. Once you’ve figured out who you want to buy gifts for, you will do yourself a huge favor by determining your overall budget and having a general idea of how much you want and can afford to spend for each person. This will help you avoid the temptations and frustrations of last-minute impulse buying.
Spend within your budget. Having a budget will be about as useful as melted ice on a hot day if you don’t stick to it. This takes tremendous discipline, and you may want to enlist help. Shopping with someone who can provide the voice of reason is the best way to keep from overspending.
Get started early. Good deals are often available before the official holiday shopping season starts on the day after Thanksgiving. Prices are usually lower, you have more time to take advantage of mail-order bargains, and you can find some great deals on models that are being phased out toward the end of the year.
Look for good gifts that are also good buys. Learn about the features and options available on a particular product, especially expensive items such as cameras, video equipment, sporting goods, stereos, and computers. Get specific product numbers before you shop around so you’re not comparing apples to oranges. Read up on different makes and models so you won’t be swayed by the more costly recommendations of zealous (and commission-hungry) salespeople.
Wherever and however you shop this holiday season, you’ll be on-trend if you’re making most of your purchases in the way that suits you best and with a credit card that rewards your generosity.
Marvin and Gloria Smith
Credit Coach, DKR Group LLC
Author of “The Psychology of Credit”
770-578-4165 | dkrgroupfunding.com
Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A