Wednesday, March 29

6 Tips to Remain Focused and Avoid the Holiday Hangover

The most won"debt"full season is officially here! Major department stores are adorned with red, white, and green holiday decorations, lights are twinkling, artificial snow blankets display floors, and the comforting sound of our favorite carols fill the air.

Christmas lists are complete and wallets are ready as people of all ages prepare to deliver holiday doses of cheer. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers anticipate spending an average of $462.95 on gifts for family this year and that amount doesn't include gifts for friends and co-workers!

Although Christmas arrives the same day, every year, many people find themselves unprepared to cope with added expenses and the temptation to overspend on gifts.

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Avoid starting the new year off with holiday debt stress and give yourself the gift of peace of mind this holiday season.

Here are six tips to remain focused and avoid the holiday hangover:

  1. Create a Gift List

    Before you begin shopping create a gift list. To create your list take a blank sheet of paper and draw three columns. The first column should include the names of everyone you plan to purchase gifts for, in the second column write the gift budget for each individual, and in the third column write possible gift options that fall within the allocated budgeted.

    Decide on the best place to store your list and use it as your checklist and guide.Stick to this list—just as you would a grocery shopping list—and resist the temptation of impulse buys.

  2. Create Shopping Guidelines

    Setting guidelines and boundaries for spending throughout the year is important. It is more important during the tempting "season of giving." Before you begin shopping, think about previous holiday purchase mistakes and the factors that led you to overspend. Commit to at least two guidelines that will help you avoid making the same buying mistakes.

    Examples of helpful guidelines include:

    • I will not walk into any store that has merchandise I know that I cannot afford.
    • I will not add anyone new to my gift list.
    • I will comparison shop and match prices to make sure that I am getting the best deal.
    • I will not make any impulse holiday purchases.
  3. Implement Creative Family Gift Exchanges

    How many times have you purchased a "guilt" gift for a family member or friend simply because they were going to be around? How many times have you experienced the embarrassment of publicly receiving a gift from someone that you had no intention of buying a gift for? Most of us are pressured into buying guilt gifts, but buying gifts for extended family can become fairly expensive, especially if you have a large family or plan to attend large celebrations. Organizing a budget friendly gift exchange is a fun solution for ensuring that everyone receives a gift.

    Check out this list of five popular gift exchange games that you can do with your family.

  4. Purchase Gifts after Christmas

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    Also consider using post-holiday sales. This as an opportunity to stock up on gifts for the next year.

    This is one of my all-time favorite holiday strategies. Why? Because the best deals happen after Christmas when retailers attempt to rid themselves of inventory that didn't move during the Christmas holiday. Consciously make plans for holiday get togethers after Christmas so that you can take advantage of after Christmas sales.

    Also consider using post-holiday sales. This as an opportunity to stock up on gifts for the next year.

  5. Credit Cards: Choose One and Stick to It

    Ideally your holiday shopping will exclude the use of credit cards, but if it doesn't make sure you use only one credit card. During the holiday season people often find themselves in credit card trouble because they juggled credit cards to purchase gifts they couldn't afford. As a result they enter the new year with balances on multiple cards with varying interest rates. If you must use a credit card during the holiday season, choose one card that charges as little interest as possible—zero percent interest is preferred.

    Using one card helps you keep track of your spending. You feel and see the impact of your spending decisions by putting your purchases on one card rather than spreading your expenses across multiple cards. If you place all expenses on one card you are also less likely to overspend, out of fear of maxing out the card.

  6. Only Allow Yourself 30 Days to Pay Off Holiday Debt

    Before you begin charging on your card, you need to have a post holiday debt repayment plan in place. If you must "borrow" to purchase Christmas gifts, how much can you afford to pay back in 30 days without compromising your monthly financial obligations? If it will take you longer than thirty days to pay off a Christmas related charge, then don't charge it! Chances are if you don't have the excess money in your budget now, you won't have it in thirty days. ou should be realistic before creating more debt.

All it takes is a little additional planning to spend within reason and fend off the holiday spending frenzy. Avoid starting the new year off with holiday debt stress and give yourself the gift of peace of mind this holiday season.

Happy shopping!
Tonya

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