for the Holidays NOW:
How to Have Jingle Bells and Not Jingle Bills
by: Jennifer S.
Regardless of which year-end holiday you celebrate, by
reading this article now and consistently taking some simple
steps, I hope that you will have a debt free holiday season
this year! Make sure you share this article with your
friends and family members so that you can all enjoy a
holiday season that does not include additional debt! Even
if you don’t celebrate holidays, follow these tips and start
having extra cash!
The first step is to commit to a personal goal of having a
happy and enjoyable holiday season without starting 2013
with additional debt. Once you have fully committed to this
goal, set your spending limit, i.e. $500. There are
approximately 10 weeks until Christmas, which is about 5
bi-weekly paychecks. A $500 spending limit means setting
aside $100 from each paycheck. Contact your bank and see if
you can open a free savings account with an automatic
transfer of $100 on each pay day. If not, select an online
bank and set up your account with automatic transfers.
Some of you are probably saying ‘hey! I can’t afford $100
per pay!” Remember that you set your spending limit, not me!
Here’s your reality check…make a list of everyone you plan
on buying a gift for. Next to their name, write the maximum
amount you will spend on each person along with 3 possible
Just like Santa, you need to check your list twice! Here are
3 critical questions to sincerely ask yourself:
Do I really need to
buy a gift for each person on my list, or is buying for
some of these people something I simply want to do?
Can couples agree to
exchange gifts of time or service instead of gifts that
cost money? Examples include a massage every month,
kitchen duty “x” times per month, a 1-hour walk or bike
ride or other outing twice a month, etc.
Can your children and
grandchildren make or bake gifts for each other and for
the people they want to give gifts to?
Add up the totals listed next to each
person. Are you over or under your maximum spending amount?
If your estimates are over your maximum spending limit,
check your list a third time! Go back over your list, adjust
the proposed spending amounts down, and see who you can take
off your list. Perhaps you can celebrate with them in
another way that does not involve spending as much money.
While you’re putting money aside from every paycheck to
cover the estimated cost of your gift buying, you need to
start buying now! Get a copy of the Sunday paper each week
from now until Christmas. Look through all the sales
circulars and ads and see if any of the items you listed as
possible gifts for the people on your list are on sale. If
so, buy the items and set them all aside in one location (so
you can find them later!). If you don’t see the specific
item you listed next to the person’s name, do you see any
appropriate alternative gifts that are on sale? See how many
gifts you can purchase in October and early November. Many
stores will refund the difference if an item you purchase
from them goes on sale later.
In addition to newspaper circulars and ads, watch the
websites for your favorite stores to see if items on your
list go on sale online. Check the website’s clearance page
for items on your list and for appropriate alternatives.
Create your own deals! Watch the circulars for stores like
Target™ and Wal-Mart™. Often, they will offer free gift
cards with certain purchases, such as laundry detergent. If
you get free gift cards with your purchases, set them aside.
You can pool the free gift cards together to purchase some
of the items on your list, or give the cards to people as
Start looking for surprise deals in the most unlikely
places! Did you know that many thrift and consignment stores
carry brand new merchandise that still have the tags
attached? Periodically check your local thrift and
consignment stores to see what you can find, including brand
new designer merchandise!
Start new traditions in your home. When your children
receive toys, have them choose one old toy to give away for
every new toy they receive. The donated toys can go to
children in need including orphanages, homeless shelters,
and domestic violence non-profits for their safe houses. As
your family members receive or buy new clothes, purge an old
clothing item for each new item and donate them. In addition
to creating a spirit and habit of giving, these traditions
will help keep the clutter down in your home!
Finally, get ready for next year’s holiday season because it
will be here at the same time! Keep putting money into your
holiday savings account after December. Even if you drop the
$100 per pay down to $50 per pay, you will have about $1300
in your savings account for the 2013 holiday season, or your
vacation, or whatever your goals are!
About the Author: Jennifer S. Matthews is a noted author,
motivational speaker, and is trained as a financial coach.
She is the author of the award-winning book 12 Ways to Put
Money in Your Pocket Every Month Without A Part Time Job.
The book shows readers how to create hundreds of dollars in
cash every month from within their existing income. Visit
Jennifer online at
www.MoneySmartBook.com and sign up for her
newsletter. While on the website, you can also purchase her
book, take advantage of free downloads, and much more.