Monday, December 15, 2008

10 Days and Counting...

Take stock of your Christmas spending today. "Only 10 more shopping days until Christmas!" We are hearing that everywhere. We are in the "feeding frenzy" mode of holiday shopping. This is when we throw caution to the wind, feel in the mood and overspend. Stop! Think of it. If you overspend $1000 and pay on your credit card at 16.99%, you need to make payments of $196/month for SIX months. Even worse, if you make minimum payments it could take until 2018 to pay off this year's Christmas bills.
You do not single-handedly need to "make" someone's Christmas by buying them everything on their list. Declare a shopping freeze. Take your credit card out of your wallet or purse. Take stock of the gifts you absolutely must buy. Can you provide a service instead? Create a coupon for a home cooked meal, take care of someone's dog for the weekend, etc. Regift. It's not a dirty word any longer. If you have something new you will absolutely never use and you know someones else will, wrap it up. (Besure you don't regift it to the person who gave it to you.) Cut back on non-essential spending. Plan on fewer meals out and if you do go out, order fewer cocktails, the place most restaurants make their money.
Now, while it's fresh in your mind, make next year's gift list. Put each person's name on an envelope. Put an amount you want to spend next to the name. Besure you add an envelope for extra decorating and entertaining you do this time of year. Add it all up and divide by 52. Every week put that amount of money in the envelope. Next year you will be paying cash for all of your gifts.
An alternative is to set up a special account at your local bank. Remember the old Christmas Savings Club? Set up the account where there are no fees then have a certain amount transferred from your paycheck each week. You can conquer the after Christmas financial doldrums!

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