5 Ways to Avoid Christmas Overspending

5 Ways to Avoid Christmas OverspendingAre you ready for Thanksgiving? I am looking forward to a welcome break and to spending time with the family.

But just thinking ahead a little bit, I wanted to get you some advice for what happens after Thanksgiving: the Christmas shopping season begins.

So whether you will join the crowds on Black Friday or whether you will take advantage of Cyber Monday, here are 5 ways to avoid Christmas overspending:

1. Establish a Budget.

You should have a list of people that will receive presents from you.

Determine how much you want to spend on each person and add the amounts to come up with a total figure.

That’s your Christmas gifts budget, meaning you can’t go over that overall amount.

You may also want to establish a budget for items such as Christmas decorations or entertainment (Nutcracker tickets anyone?).

2. Use Cash.

As we have discussed before, cash is king.

Using cash will keep you from overspending, which is easier to do than when you use plastic (either a debit card or credit card).

When your cash is gone, your shopping should stop.

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3. Take your Time.

Don’t just wait until Christmas Eve to do all your shopping.

Don’t try to just buy something just to get it done. Give yourself the opportunity to do some comparison shopping and find the good deals that are out there.

Plan ahead.

4. Leverage Technology.

In these Internet days, search online for the best deals and compare prices. You can also save time if you order items online and avoid the battles for parking and long lines at the mall (provided you give yourself enough time).

Also, take advantage of your smart phone, and look for the best Apps to help you shop during this holiday season.

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5. Plan for Next Year’s Christmas.

Ideally, you will be starting your Christmas sinking fund now so you have the cash ready for next year’s expenses.

These few steps will save you a lot of money, a lot of time, and they will reduce your stress levels. Focus on spending good quality time with friends and family.

Don’t let the disease of “more” rob you of having a great Christmas season.

Finally, remember what this season is really all about. It is about celebrating how God reached out to provide for mankind’s greatest need.

God knew we needed a Savior and and He gave us His Son Jesus. If you have not had the opportunity to meet Him, there is no better time than today.

He is the indescribable gift, the Prince of Peace, God with us.

He is all that you will ever need in this life and the next. Let me be one of the first people to say to you: Merry Christmas.

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 (NASB)

It’s August, is your Christmas Fund Ready?

Christmas in AugustSubscribe to future posts from Figueroa Financial by e-mail

My wife has been serving as an interim pianist for a local church, and this past weekend they started their rehearsing with Christmas music. They had the room decorated with Christmas nativities and someone even baked Christmas cookies.

No, they have not moved the celebration from December to August while you and I were not paying attention. But in terms of how soon it will get here they might as well have. We are talking about only 4 short months. So the choir and orchestra at that church have started their preparation now.

If we are not careful, Christmas can become a high spending season. We can easily get caught unprepared and fall into the normal habit of using debt for the seasonal expenses.

If you are normal and are planning to use credit cards for gifts and other seasonal expenses, you could be paying interest for many months. Statistics show that if you use credit cards, not only you will spend more money, you will still be paying for those expenses come May of 2014 with the added interest.

However, you and I still have time to prepare for Christmas and avoid making it an extended, long season.

Do yourself a favor and start preparing for Christmas now by taking these 3 steps:

  1. Decide on a budget amount for Christmas expenses. You will want to cover expenses such as travel (if you are going to visit family), decorations, entertainment, and of course gifts (make a list of everyone who would receive a present from you).
  2. Build a sinking fund by putting a line in your budget for a “Christmas Fund” and saving the monthly amount required to meet your target. For example, if you are planning to spend $1,000 you have 4 months to save (including August). That means you need to save $250 / month.
  3. When December comes along, spend only accordingly to what you save and what is in your budget. Don’t rely on debt to get you through the season.

We have been saving for our Christmas fund but we have to pick-up the pace to save according to what we would like to do this season. So we have started making the adjustments now by cutting back in our dining out budget. This will enable us to save put more money in our Christmas fund.

I hope you can have a joyous Christmas celebration without regrets and without bills that follow you into the New Year. Get ready now!

What other tips you have for saving for Christmas expenses?

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