A few tips on how to keep your holiday glee as well as your wallet

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It’s that time of the year again, time for the holidays. Respectively, this year will be more monetarily challenging for many families due to the current state of financial affairs in our country than any in many decades past. The stock market is on a continuous roller coaster ride; gas prices, until recently, have been astronomical; real estate prices have plummeted and many mortgages have been called in on unprepared, ill equipped families. No doubt, these are tumultuous times but that does not mean that financial stress has to overwhelm you this season, snuffing out the joy of family and the holiday spirit. Here are a few tips on how to keep your holiday glee as well as your wallet this year:

  • Buy in bulk: Stocking stuffers and greeting cards can be bought in bulk and save you time and cash. Holiday greeting cards can be purchased in assortment packages so that it doesn’t appear as though you are buying everyone the same greeting card. Stocking stuffers for children and or grandchildren are filled quickly and inexpensively when buying multi-packs of gum, combs, tic-tacs, candy, chapstick, disposable shaving razors, pens, pencils, erasers, toy cars, and so on.
  • Brake out the board games: Board games are great fun and they reinforce interaction. Why pay for the entire extended family to go watch the latest Tim Allen Christmas movie when there is plenty of fun and savings waiting for you at home?
  • Mail your gifts early: Don’t wait until the last minute to send out gifts to family that you won’t see in person this year. First class and priority mail is expensive and can add up fast. Watch the calendar and mail out gifts early enough so that you can utilize ground shipping.
  • Utilize the dollar store: There are many things that can be bought at the dollar store, items that really don’t necessitate quality, annual throw away items. Most dollar stores have an abundance of Christmas decorations, cards, signs, batteries (big one), balloons, ribbons, plastic table clothes, candy cans / tins, etc. For those of you that are feeling lucky, you can even purchase a variety of nuts at the dollar store for your finger food assortments.
  • Black Friday Sales: You can purchase some big ticket items at a considerable discount at Black Friday sales (the day after Thanksgiving). Granted, insane crowds and primal human behavior may not be your cup of tea. However, if you’re the type of person that likes the thrill of the hunt, Black Friday sales can help you to obtain those excessively priced Christmas wish list items.
  • Get a used artificial tree: Browse Craigslist for a plastic tree and put the money you saved toward gifts.
  • Set a holiday spending limit and pay cash: Setting a limit and paying with cash will help you to keep track of your spending. It is very easy to slide that credit card through, not keeping a total of your spending. Additionally, setting a holiday spending limit helps one to evaluate items of the greatest importance and to cut out excess.
  • Redeem your points: You’ve been piling up those credit card points for awhile now… just in case you forgot. Redeem your credit card points for just about anything, anywhere. Many credit card company point programs are versatile; you may be surprised what you can put those American Airlines points toward, for instance. Give your credit card company a call and find out more.
  • Surf the web for better prices: You can always find products online cheaper than in department stores. Granted, shopping online requires shopping in advance but if you are willing to do so this is much advised. There are a variety of websites where consumers can find gifts at prices “far below” what you can find at bricks and mortar locations, especially the mall. Froogle.com (Google’s shopping search engine), Amazon.com, Buy.com, and Walmart.com (more selection and often lower prices than what you find in store with a no shipping-cost option for in-store delivery) are some reputable places to look where you can find most any brand and product. If you prefer to shop in person, go to your department store of choice and write down the item name, brand, and corresponding item number for products you would like to purchase; look up those products online and you will be amazed at the savings you can realize.

Big spending doesn’t equate to holiday happiness. Incorporate some holiday spending strategies and take a pass on undue financial burden and stress this year!

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