The busiest time of year in the debt relief industry is usually from January to March. Why is that? Because of all the people who spent too much money during the holidays and need help! And don’t forget about all of those people who make “getting out of debt” their New Year’s resolution.
I’m not trying to be a Grinch. And ruin your holiday season. But here are the statistics that show people will be spending a LOT OF MONEY this holiday season:
The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $447.1 billion on holiday-related items in the months of November and December. Wow! And they estimate that almost 30% percent of that will be bought using credit cards. Extra wow!
How long will it take people to pay off this incredible amount? 3 months? 6 months? Longer?
But just because the holidays are known as the season for giving, doesn’t mean it has to be the season of spending.
And I’m not going to tell you that you need to camp outside of your favorite retail store for days just so you can get there early and get in on some of the “Black Friday” bargains.
It's never too early to look for ways to save money, especially with the holidays right around the corner. Here are a few helpful tips to help you get off to a good start, and keep yourself out of financial trouble!
1-Be real with yourself.
Of course, everyone wants to be able to give a lot to those they love. But that’s not always a good idea financially speaking. So unless you are wealthy enough that spending doesn’t matter, you need to be the one to keep your spending under control. Nobody else will do it for you. How do you do this?
2-Make a list BEFORE you go shopping and stick to it.
Retailers LOVE consumers who go shopping without a plan! That’s exactly why they set up all their fancy displays with their “best deals”. If you go shopping without a list, you are destined to spend more than you should. So write down a list of gifts for each and every person on your shopping list. And put a spending limit on each item. That way you can add up all the dollar amounts and know exactly how much you will be spending.
3-Put cash in an envelope and only use that for gifts (no credit cards!)
If money is tight in your household, another good strategy is to get an envelope and put a few dollars in it every time you have some extra money. You can do this throughout the year, it’s a fun, easy way to save for any planned expense (vacations, big screen TV, a night out at a restaurant) or for emergencies (car repairs, home repairs, etc). And it works especially well during the holidays. Whether you use it for some extra spending money or as your entire spending budget for the holidays, it’s a lot o fun using cash instead of credit cards.
4-Make personalized gifts instead of buying more expensive ones.
Not only will this save you money, but it can be really fun! And it will get you “points” for being creative. Put together a gift basket with samples from a theme that the person receiving the gift will like. Know someone who likes movies? You can put some microwave popcorn, a candy bar, and a movie ticket in a basket (and this is a gift that works for people of all ages!) Lots of fun, without spending a fortune! In fact, you can probably do the movie basket for under $25.
5-Donate to a charity in the name of someone else.
What better gift than one to a charity? This sends such a great message. And helps others. Even a $5 donation is worthwhile. Rather than buying a bunch of junk just to fill up a stocking or shopping bag, use that money to buy something meaningful. While it may not save you money, it teaches a much more valuable lesson – both to you AND to the person you are giving the gift to.
So don't let yourself fall victim to a large amount of credit card debt from holiday shopping. If you use common sense, and a little creativity, you can avoid being one of those 30% of people who need help digging out of debt after the holidays!
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