With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we each have so many things to be thankful for including living in the greatest nation in the world. The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, marks the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season and with a bit of planning you can get great deals on gifts without starting the New Year with new debt! Here are my 5 strategies for (financially) surviving the holidays:
- Develop an overall game plan. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Check your savings accounts balances and decide how much you can afford to spend without going into debt. Then either pay cash or, if using a credit card or check, track total spending against your maximum spending goal.
- Build a gift list. Make a list of all of the folks that you plan to give a gift then decide a spending range for each person. When you’re done, add up your totals and make sure the total is not far out of line with your spending goal. If it is, review and adjust your budget as appropriate. Our associate, Wendy Weber, said her family reduced the number of ‘family’ gifts by drawing names so that everyone only bought and received one gift…a great savings of time and money!
- Focus on the children. If your resources are limited, consider establishing a ‘moratorium’ on gifts between spouses and friends and, instead focus on gifts for your children for they are the people who are most excited and have the greatest expectations during this holiday.
- Find the best deals. Today, it’s easier than ever to find the best price on just about any particular item. Major chain stores such as Walmart and Target offer price protection and there are smartphone apps that allow you to ‘swipe’ an item in one store and it’ll give you the best prices from nearby competitors. Often you can use this information to negotiate that best price right where you are shopping. Here are 4 of the top free apps:
· Price Check by Amazon– While you’re at the store, you can either take a photo or scan the bar code using this app and it’ll give you Amazon’s price for the same product.
· RedLaser– With this app you scan the product barcode and it will give you price comparisons of near-by stores plus on-line prices as well.
· ShopSavvy– This app is similar to Red Laser.
· Coupon Sherpa– Fire up this app in the store you’re visiting and it’ll list the current discount coupons. It’s limited to mainly big chain stores.
- Reach out and touch someone. While our economy has continued to improve over recent months, there are still literally millions of Americans out of work and in financial pain. Use this season to reach out to help someone less fortunate than you. While donations are always welcome, this doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Consider giving your time to help at a shelter or community kitchen or give away clothing items that you no longer use. If you have young children consider bringing them into this giving activity. Children are great learners and helping others in need is one of life’s greatest lessons.