I know, I know, Christmas seems like it is light years in the future. Before we know it, our senses will be bombarded with Christmas music and the aroma of fresh pine! If you are anything like me when I was younger, the holidays were always a stressful event because I rushed around at the last minute, with no plan whatsoever, buying things I could not afford. My annual gift to myself for many years: a brand new credit card payment.

However, with a little forethought and surprisingly little effort, you can be prepared with cash to pay for your holiday season. Just remember these 5 tips:

1) Start NOW

One thing is true every day of the year; Christmas is getting closer every day. Start by simply developing a Christmas list and spending limit. Having more time to plan and save can really help in several ways. You can eliminate impulse purchases, overspending, and you are far less likely to forget someone on your list.

2) Find simple ways to save

It is actually easier to save than ever. Credit unions and banks have special Christmas funds you can set up and there are many cool savings options available to save painlessly. Many banks will transfer your “change” from debit card transactions. For instance, if you spend $8.14, the bank will automatically transfer the remaining $0.86 into your savings. I always put my change in a jug, and my bank has a feature that automatically transfers $1 into my savings account every time I swipe my debit card. You will be surprised at how quickly these little things can add up.

3) Get rid of clutter

Make your junk someone else’s new toy or project. Bidding and selling websites like Ebay and Craigslist make selling items easier than ever. Garage sales can also generate money, weather permitting. Look at your “financial clutter” as well. I’m not saying give up cable and cell phones, but find ways to shave off a few bucks here and there. Take that savings and put it away every month. You may not even have to give anything up. I called my satellite provider a few months ago to cancel some extra channels and the representative let me keep all of my programming, but instead gave me $35 dollars in credits per month for the rest of my contract.

4) Be a smart shopper

In the technology crazy world we live in, it is easier than ever to save money. Internet shopping, smart phone apps, and online bidding and warehouse sites all make comparison shopping and price hunting easier than ever. Don’t be afraid to ask a local store to price match a better price. I have many local stores that will even match prices from online competitors, which saves money on shipping. Starting early and finding deals can save hundreds of dollars over the holidays.

5) Talk to your friends and family

Chances are extremely high that you are not the only one in your circle of gifting that feels the crunch during the holidays. Find creative ways to give without breaking the bank. Many families choose pre-determined spending limits, play the “white elephant” gift game, or draw names for single gifts rather than everyone buying for everyone. Playing games with smaller gifts often creates fonder memories than the video game that is likely collecting dust somewhere.

Don’t be afraid to be creative and find other ways to prepare yourself for this holiday season. Involve the whole family and teach your kids about money while they are young.

If you keep these helpful tips in mind and you will be able to enjoy the holiday season without the stress and anxiety of another year of credit card payments!

LSS Financial Counseling is here to help you create smart money habits and conquer your debt. Call us today at 888.577.2227 to schedule your financial check-up – you’ll be glad you did!

You can also get started right now. Enter in your current income, expenses and assets on our safe, free and confidential online counseling tool. A financial counselor will take a look and get back to you in 3 days or less with a fresh perspective on your financial situation. Just click here:

Author Malcolm Johannessen is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS and he specializes in Foreclosure Prevention Counseling.

 

 

 

 

 

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