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$mart Holiday Shopping

Posted: November 13, 2018

Everyone gets stressed about the holiday season―a million things to get ready for, family members to see, parties to attend etc. Don’t let money be another item on that list of worries! With some forethought and a little planning throughout the year can help you stay on budget and take some of the holiday stress off your plate.

When it comes to holiday gift shopping try to plan ahead by saving money for gifts and/or party items throughout the year. You could set up a regular savings account that you designate to holiday funds or most financials have special accounts, Holiday or Christmas Savings accounts, that limit your access to those funds until a certain time of year, usually a month or so before the holiday season begins. If you have a spot designated for holiday funds, you can set up automatic transfers from each of your paychecks to go into that account and it spreads out the expense throughout the year. You can also have the mindset of, when those funds are gone that is the end of shopping. Another option for planning ahead would be to get wish lists early. This way you can be on the lookout for sales throughout the year or look into layaway options to spread out the payments.

If you haven’t thought about putting money away for holiday expenses, and now the season is right around the corner, you may be feeling the pressure. Never fear, I have some ideas to help you out! Don't worry if you miss out on all those crazy sales, such as Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday or Cyber Monday. It doesn’t mean you have to pay full price. It may be a little unorthodox but think about buying some of those items after the holidays. You can print out a picture of the item and wrap that up for your loved one to open but then mention that they will receive the actual gift after New Year’s. Many items go on sale again after the holidays, just as they did in November. If your budget is getting tighter, try to do homemade gifts. These items can be inexpensive and you are only limited by your imagination, instead of your checkbook.

Lastly, things that you should avoid doing when shopping for holiday gifts―it may be tempting, but try not to mindlessly swipe your credit card when finding items to purchase for loved ones. Not seeing how much you’ve spent until you get that bill can lead to a lot of stress when you should be enjoying the season with friends and family. If you do end up using your credit card to make purchases, try to have a plan set up beforehand of how you are going to pay that card off as soon as possible. You don’t want to be paying for this year’s gifts, next year. Plus, the interest rate on most cards is not something you want to be paying back. Another thing to keep in mind is to not get sucked into all the holiday specials. Some can be great deals but others can be scams or have conditions or attachments and you could wind up paying for something you don’t really need or want for the rest of the year.
Emma Bartz, WESTconsin's Programs and Outreach Specialist

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