Tips for keeping your holiday budget on track
If Black Friday was the start for your holiday shopping and more lies ahead, it’s still not too late to think about a budget.
Consumers have a tendency to overspend during the holidays, but by planning ahead, they can lessen the impact when their credit card bills start rolling in. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Clearpoint Credit Counseling have teamed up to offer financial tips and an online Holiday Planner Calculator to help make sure your holidays are merry and bright!
“The holidays are a joyous time, but it’s important to remember to stay within your budget,” said Dennis Horton, director of the BBB’s Rockford Regional Office. “You don’t want to find yourself struggling to pay the bills after the holidays.”
The Holiday Planner Calculator, at http://video.bbb.org/clearpoint-holiday-tips/clearpoint-holiday-budgeting-calculator.html, can help determine an overall budget, decide how much to designate for each category (gifts, parties, travel, food and donations), then get into details like how much to spend on each person or budgeting for parties and travel. Creating a budget and sticking to it can be a challenge, but being more conscious of your holiday spending habits will help you start the new year without a lot of new debt.
The BBB also offers the following tips:
Less Is More: Cut down on gift-giving. For work gatherings, have everyone draw a name and give one gift. Set limits with family members and then get creative about finding something in your new, lower price range. For the person who has everything, consider making a charitable donation in his or her name.
Do It Yourself: Homemade crafts and decorations can be fun to make and to give. Consider baking or canning your gifts this year. Give gift certificates for future services (babysitting, dog walking, leaf raking) or special events after the holidays (shows, ice skating).
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Use less of everything, because little things add up. Is it necessary to gift wrap that huge box? How about putting a “clue” under the tree instead and have the recipient find the present hidden someplace else in the house. Reuse gift bags — they are sturdy enough to be used five or six times. Make your own gift tags and decorations. Spray paint old candle holders gold or silver instead of buying new ones.
Trim Energy Costs: Switch to LED lights and you’ll not only burn less energy, you’ll need fewer strands because the lights are brighter. Turn off your outside decorations when you go to bed. Turn down the thermostat when no one is home. Combine shopping trips and errands, and carpool to family gatherings.
For more about holiday shopping and finding businesses you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.
From the Dec. 7-13, 2011, issue
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