Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saving Skills # 2: Don’t let holiday shopping stress you out!

Hey Everybody!

It’s the holiday season again, and here in North America, we make shopping look like an extreme sport. Think packed malls, bulging bags full of gifts for friends and family….and of course, the stress of budgeting what little you have, in order to get everyone that perfect present.

But cashsmart is here to help you from breaking the bank and overspending! We have some money management advice for you to keep financially healthy during the holidays:

Tip #1: Develop a spending budget.
Sounds like common sense, but not many people write up a budget before hitting the mall. A budget can be the difference between saving some cash, and overspending.
There are many ways to create a budget plan, but we find this one the easiest:
a)      Set aside money for your personal use, including phone bills, food and transportation costs that you may have.
b)      The money left over will be a good starting point to gauge how much you can afford to spend. Draw up a list of purchases, and include the maximum amount that you’d be willing to spend on each one. For example, you might want to limit spending $20 on Christmas cards, and $25 on decorations.
c)       Stick to the budget! That way it’s practically impossible to overrun it, and incur debt into the next month.

Tip #2: Make your own gift!
This tip is especially for all you cash strapped people, but it also applies to everyone as well. Hand-made and homemade presents have a personal touch that mass produced products lack. It can be anything from baked goods to cross-stitched designs, or even a basket of fruit! It might be cliché, but really, it’s the thought that counts.

Tip #3: Don’t shop last minute!
If you’ve left shopping till 2 days before Christmas, your budget will be in for a rough time. Shopping under stress can lead to unnecessary spending, so try to get it done 2 weeks earlier.

Tip # 4: After the holidays
The Boxing day sale could leave your healthy looking accounts in the red, if you take an extra day of Christmas shopping without first calculating all your expenses for the month. Make sure you account for all your expenditures including gifts, postage, entertainment and decorations before hitting the mall for that last shopping spree. If you’ve already hit the limit, stop shopping! It’ll only run you into the misery of debt. 

Happy Holidays!
The cashsmart Team

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