September 21, 2015
Written by: Gina M. Sanchez Juarez, Financial Stability Manager at La Casa de Esperanza
616.1 billion dollars was spent last year during the holiday shopping season¹. Each year, it seems, retailers start marketing their merchandise earlier, in hopes of influencing consumers to buy earlier, and therefore spend more throughout the festive season.
But don’t worry; by following these 5 great tips you’ll be ready to breeze through the holiday season.
Tip #1: Set a Limit
Focus on what is important to you and talk with your family about how much you want to spend on gifts. Then set a spending limit. Create a list of alternative ways you can celebrate the season together and not break the bank. This is also be a great time to discuss your social calendars. The season is stressful enough, without the extra demands of social obligations. To do not overcommit.
Tip #2: Plan Ahead
What is your budget? Begin setting aside money in your monthly budget to put away for holiday expenses. It’s easier to decide on a gift when you know what you have to work with. Or consider buying gifts throughout the year, not just during the peak season.
If you decide on online shopping take advantage of free shipping options and extra coupons. Also check the return policies.
Plan your shopping trips. Look for special “saving days” at your favorite stores. Take a predetermined amount of cash with you. Leave any other credit cards or access to additional money at home. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and eat before you go out. We tend to spend more when we do last minute shopping. Record your purchases immediately so you are not buying extra things. After the holidays, review what you spent and start planning what you need to save for next year.
Tip #3: Trim Your List for the kids
Be realistic about what you can afford and what your children really need. You are their teachers and role models when it comes to money management, so set a good standard. Teach your children on ways to earn money to have the ability to give gifts if appropriate. Work with them on their budget and help them prioritize gift-giving by asking questions.
In the end, the time and traditions you create together during the holiday season is what they will remember, not how many toys they received under the tree.
Tip #4: Pay with Cash
Paying with cash can help you limit how much you are spending. Don’t just buy just to buy. Make sure you are reflecting on the gift and who the recipient is. Limit spending on yourself.
Tip# 5: Be Creative
Do you have a talent or service that you could use versus buying a tangible gift? Give a gift certificate that offers free babysitting, cooking, cleaning or lawn care. Add an expiration date and a value as a way to show how valuable your gift is.
Cut down on the cost of gift wrap and holiday cards by making your own. Newspapers, the comic strip section, painted or colored paper or even brown paper bags can make fun and unique gift wrap. Making your own holiday cards with paper or doing them online allows you to add a photo and your own unique twist that shows your personality and thoughtfulness.
And lastly, just enjoy the season. In the end, it’s all about enjoying the time with family and friends.
About the Blogger
Gina M. Sanchez Juarez is the Financial Stability Manager at La Casa de Esperanza, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The Financial Stability Initiative is a partnership between La Casa de Esperanza and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. Gina has all six certifications under the NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling and operates under the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education. She is a financial coach and educator working with individuals and families on obtaining tools for financial capability by meeting basic needs, building savings and gaining assets. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of personal finances to positively impact the lives of others.