Thursday, November 3, 2011

Small Tips to Save Big this Christmas

By Laura Price, Investment Advisor

It may seem early to start planning for the holidays, but now is the perfect time to draw up a shopping list and budget. Gift-giving and family gatherings can become expensive in a hurry. Here are a few tips for reducing the financial burden this season brings:

Make a gift list. Start by listing all the family members and friends you wish to give something to. Then assign a specific dollar amount to each person and do not exceed that amount. Neglecting to create a gift budget is recipe for disaster.

Take an inventory of your skills and talents. Instead of purchasing gifts for everyone on your list, perhaps homemade gifts (a growing trend!) would be appropriate. What are your gifts? Sewing? Woodworking? Scrapbooking? Baking? Photography? Put those talents to use to please the folks on your list who appreciate sentiment or practicality.

Gift exchanges. With family and friend holiday gatherings, it makes the best sense financially for each person to draw one name and set a price limit. That way, you’re only buying one $50 gift for Grandma instead of buying $20 gifts for ten people. You save money and Grandma gets a better gift.

Keep an eye on the ads. Clip out coupons and take advantage of Black Friday sales. Don’t want to fight the crowds? Most sales apply to online shopping as well.

Shop early. Stores LOVE last-minute shoppers. When you’re down to the wire and desperate to find a gift, you will almost always pay more. Take your time and start shopping early.

Search the Internet. The Internet has an abundance of resources for ideas on cheap holiday parties, homemade gifts, coupons, and other ways to make the holidays less expensive. It pays to do your research!

Start planning for next year. When this holiday season is over, immediately start saving for next year. Also review this year’s budget to see how you made out. What adjustments will need to be made next year? Some folks even set up a separate savings account for gifts, allocating a certain amount from each paycheck to avoid shelling out extra from their year-end paychecks.

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