August 9, 2010

Christmas in Summer

8/9/10 |
By Karen Saley, Extension Specialist, Pinellas County Extension

With the summer heat hitting the nineties, Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind, but now is the time to start putting into practice all those helpful budgeting tips you read about in November and December.

Lack of planning can lead to overspending during the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping along with feeling the strain of limited time which can lead to buying gifts at full price and on impulse. With a little advanced planning and writing out a budget you will be able to reduce your stress and save time and money this holiday season.

Before you write out your spending plan there are a few things you may want to consider before getting started.
  • Are there people you can eliminate from your gift list like the mailman, your kid’s teachers, and your hairdresser? It’s very nice to remember everyone during the holidays, but they are probably feeling the financial pinch as much as you and are most likely not expecting a gift. 
  • If your family is one of the many that exchange gifts with everyone you may want to talk to them about a secret Santa or pulling names from a hat. You may want to ask if there is a family gift such as video or electronic games, camping gear, or sporting equipment that the whole family would use.
  • If there is a family member that has their heart set on a more expensive give, take up a collection from the whole family to purchase it instead of buying a lot of little things that may not be appreciated as much.
  • Discuss the idea of family and friends spending time together playing games, watching holiday movies or getting involved in a charity helping others instead of exchanging gifts.
  • Preparing the holiday meal can be very time consuming and expensive. Suggest that this year everyone make a dish, provide beverages, or bring dessert. It’s a good way to get everyone involved in the holiday meal and it will save you time and money. 
Now that you have considered some ways to reduce your holiday expenses, it’s time to write your spending plan and start shopping.
  • Make a list of everyone you are going to buy gifts for and set a dollar amount for each person.
  • Go through your gift wrap, bows, and cards and make a list of what you will need for the holidays. If you want to be really frugal, consider using some of the more colorful pages of the newspaper as gift wrap.
  • Write out your holiday menu and start stocking up on the non-perishable items you will need such as chicken broth, stuffing mix, and canned or frozen vegetables. This will allow you to buy these items as they go on sale.
  • Start gift shopping. Look for those bargains and sales at the book stores, toy stores, department stores, and outlets. You will have two seasonal sales events to make the most of before the end of the year.
  • Sign up to receive email alerts from your favorite stores so you can take advantage of sales and coupons throughout the year.
  • Compare prices on line before making a purchase. Having the time to shop around can save you big bucks. 
With a little planning and a head start on your shopping, you will save time and money and be far less stressed this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

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