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Oh yes – til the season…..
I first started writing this with putting down budget tips – and it really is what I wanted to do. But as always this time of the year, I am reminded what this season is all about – being with those you love and care for. So I am starting the series of holiday articles with a combination of how to manage the budget – and your feelings all at once. Enjoy!
I am going to this one first – only because if you haven’t done it, this would be the perfect time to feel how nice it would be if you did. So – plan ahead and start this as your New Year’s resolution!Remember that it is a good idea to have extra money on hand for the holidays. The best way to do that is to designate an account and have regular deposit transfers made into it. Chances are that you won’t even feel it during the year and will be very happy when you will see that extra cash just waiting for you to go shopping with! For example – if you designate $50 from each bi-weekly paycheque – you will have $1300 ready to use!
This one is no surprise – some credit cards begin calculating the interest immediately after you buy an item – so even if you pay off your bill quickly, that $100 purchase costs you a whole lot more. The biggest misconception is the thinking that you will be able to pay off your holiday spending right after the holidays. Most people end up shaking their heads when the bills come in and can’t believe that they spent so much!
I know some of you are waiting for the big sales that happen close to Christmas – and they do happen. Here is the catch: unless you are able to stick only to the item you came for, you are likely going to end up purchasing items that were just too good a deal to pass on. I also have another idea: I start watching for things just at the end of the summer – and believe you me – there are good sales then as well! I have a big box in the spare bedroom and when I find something, I just put it there. Then – few weeks before Christmas, I take an inventory. And you wouldn’t believe how far ahead I am – for example this year, there are only couple of little things I still need! And since they were smaller purchases over a period of longer time – my wallet didn’t feel it all that much!
Do you save wrapping paper, bags, bows, etc.? If you don’t – try it this year! Put them in a separate box and you will see how much help it will be for the next Christmas! You can always spruce them up by adding things like pine cones or pine boughs to the decorations!
Do It Yourself:
This one was coming….You probably already know that I like giving homemade gifts – I think they are perfect especially as hostess gifts. Here is the best way to do it: pick an day in early December and start creating little gifts that you can take to parties, give to your mailperson, newspaper boy, etc. And – by the way – it is a great idea to have a few “generic” gifts on hand as well. That way, if someone shows up unexpectedly, you will some to give!
Feel the Spirit:
Focus on what you want the holidays to be about for you and your family. Not everything has to have a price tag attached to it! Go tobogganing together, make an event out of decorating your tree, watch a seasonal movie like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or take a walk together to see the local lights displays. The one thing you will want to remember is to touch those closest to you – talk to your parents, your siblings, your friends – you will make them and yourself feel good!
Look beyond the Bucks:
You can cut back the mountains of presents and still have a great holiday! Try playing Secret Santa, where each person buys only one present for another, pre-arranged family member. Or give children 3 gifts each – large, medium and small and have them guess what is in them. You don’t have to splurge on the kids – what they will remember is the special time they always had at Christmas – not the gifts they received!
Remember – the main purpose of Christmas is to get together a feel close to your loved ones –
and that doesn’t cost anything!