Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Paying for Christmas

If you've shopped at all lately- be it a grocery store, the mall or a discount retailer- chances are the Christmas decorations are up and staring you in the face. Although you might be thinking that Christmas is still a ways away, it's actually just around the corner. Now, more than ever, is the time to start thinking about how to financially prepare for the month of December (if you haven't already).

Christmas is almost synonymous with large credit card bills in January. But with the hikes in rates this past year, and new hidden fees popping up every day, using a credit card to pay for Christmas is no longer a wise or safe move financially. Do yourself a favor this season and vow to pay for Christmas in cash. Start a Christmas savings fund and contribute as much as possible to it during the month of November. Here are some easy ideas to help get you started and seeing some instant buildup:
  • Eat every meal at home for the month. The average family spends hundreds of dollars on eating out, of which could be going to a Christmas fund.

  • Cut back on luxury frills such as the movie theater and excessive driving. Instead, look for ways to entertain for free at home by watching movies you already own or playing cards or board games. This is will bring your family closer together too!

  • Avoid major purchases until after January, if at all possible. A large piece of furniture or household appliance that does not require immediate attention should be put off for a couple months. Think of creative ways to get by until you are able to afford it.

  • Buy used if you need something. This includes clothing, appliances and other items. Not only will you save a bundle for Christmas, but you will be helping the environment by being resourceful.

  • Trim the phone bill. This is an easy area that many people can save on. Take a good look at your monthly phone bill- are you using all the features and minutes that you pay for? If not, downgrade, at least temporarily. You can also upgrade your plan after the holidays if necessary. Instant savings. Do this for all your utility bills, and you will have a large lump of cash available for the holidays.

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