Sep 21 2009

Christmas shopping! Ideas to keep you from overspending...

Christmas trees, wrapping paper, bows...all the trimmings are ALREADY starting to fill the stores!  If you're ready to get started on your Christmas shopping, here are some tips to help you control your spending.

1. Set a budget.

No matter when you shop, set a budget, make a list and stick to it. Don't allow yourself second thoughts about whether you're being generous enough. Gerri Detweiler, a personal finance adviser at Credit.com, says one of the greatest gifts anyone can give their family is "saving for emergencies and the future."

2. Pace yourself.

If you do all your shopping in December and use credit cards, you'll get a doozy of a bill in January. Detweiler says credit agencies' "phones start ringing off the hooks" in mid-January from people who overextended themselves during last-minute shopping. By pacing yourself throughout the fall, you're less likely to break the budget.

3. Avoid deadline shopping.

Shopping while under deadline pressure can lead to bad (read: costly) buying decisions. Even if you stick to a well-thought-out and on-budget shopping list, stores may well be out of whatever's on your list, and the alternatives may not be as appreciated or affordable.

4. Be organized.

If you start shopping early, keep a careful accounting of what you've spent and what you bought. It can be as easy to forget how much you've already gotten the kids as it is to forget you've almost broken the budget. Detweiler recommends putting all receipts in an envelope beginning with the first holiday purchase and keeping a careful accounting of spending on the outside.

5. Get plugged in.

So you don't have to wait for — or hope for — big sales to be announced, sign up for e-mail or even text-message promotions from the retailers you are most likely to buy from this season. And sign up for or check balances on rewards programs offered by debit and credit cards. There might be a free gift or deep discount available.

For the full article from USA Today, click here!

Peace and k-love, Lisa

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