It is nearly impossible to miss the Black Friday frenzy that kicks off the winter holiday shopping season. Every year, it seems the holiday commercials and big sales start sooner.
Marketers make sure there are always coveted big-ticket items that our children, and ourselves, can’t live without for Christmas or Hanukkah.
Our pockets are often not deep enough to buy everything on our shopping list, so many of us whip out our credit cards to cover it all.
After all, we do not want our kids and loved ones to feel that their wishes were not granted. But that means many of us enter the New Year with a debt hangover that can take many months to crawl out of.
If you are tired of starting every year with debt from the holidays, use these three tips to avoid it.
1. Shop sales only when you need them.
Holiday sales are everywhere you turn, and it is true many items are marked down lower than any other time of the year. Do not let these incredible sales cloud your judgment and convince you to spend money unnecessarily.
Many of us incur holiday debt because we can’t stick to our list and overspend. Remember a deal is not a deal unless you need it.
Was a new PlayStation on your shopping list and in your budget? If it was, that’s great. Buy it on sale and enjoy the savings. But was that new Blu-ray player on your shopping list? Do you really need it? Then ignore the 30 percent off sale.
It is a waste of money if you do not need it and do not have the budget for it.
Do pay attention to deals for the items you need, as there are many opportunities for saving. Sites like CouponsDaily.com, Ebates.com and even Amazon.com have incredible offers during the holiday shopping season.
Do not give into temptation and shop sales just for the sake of shopping if you can’t afford them.
2. Give services, not things.
Sure, some people really do want tangible gifts. But how many times do people receive a holiday gift they will use twice and then forget about?
Consider giving a gift certificate for a service you can provide rather than giving a tangible item.
“It will be free for you
and helpful to the recipient.”
You probably have many valuable skills you have never considered as gift-worthy, but brainstorm and you will see how much you have to offer.
Maybe you can babysit your nieces and nephews. You could do home repairs for your in-laws.
You might mow the lawn or garden for your parents. You could run errands for elderly neighbors. You could give your spouse a massage or a night out with friends while you watch the kids.
The options are endless — and free! You can type out the gift certificate like a real gift card and put it in an envelope or gift box so it will still feel festive.
3. Start saving early for next year.
This tip comes too late for the current holiday season, but it will help you significantly next year.
Many of us do not start saving for the holidays until November, when we realize gift-shopping season is imminent. This last-minute approach is what lands so many of us in holiday debt.
Instead, estimate roughly how much you will need for next Christmas or Hanukkah, divide the number by 12 and set aside that much money every single month starting this January.
Stick it in an envelope or savings account and do not touch it. Consider it a regular expense like your mortgage or car payment.
While it will not be fun to set aside this money every month, think of how amazing it will feel to have enough cash for all your holiday gifts without needing to put anything on layaway or credit.
You will enjoy the gratification of beginning the New Year with no holiday debt looming over you.
Photo source: sheknows.com.