The average family will spend $650 on gifts this year. That is on top of holiday meals, extra travel, and all the other last minute expenses that come along this time of the year. Jeanette Pavini is here to show us the best ways to navigate holiday spending so that "getting out of debt" isn't your New Year's resolution!
What is the first step to avoiding holiday debt?
- Number one: Create a budget/gift log. Set a budget – use a template (check Google docs) or create your own - Include all expenses: gifts, décor, meals, party clothes, etc. - Keep a gift log: make a list of all people you need to buy for, how much you want to spend, jot down ideas, then document what you end up actually giving and how much it cost.
- Set money aside from each paycheck through the holidays, that way even if you procrastinate shopping, you still have a pool of money to pull from rather than it all coming from your December paycheck.
- Pay with cash whenever possible.
- Assess credit card rewards. - Get familiar with your credit card rewards so you can get properly rewarded for your holiday shopping. - For example, October to December, Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back at Amazon, Zappos, and select department stores, so if you are a card holder, it could make sense to plan your holiday gift shopping around that offer. - If you have been considering signing up for a rewards card, the last quarter of the year can be a great time to sign up. Many offer introductory bonuses when you spend a certain amount in the first couple of months, which will be easier to reach due to holiday spending. - Credit cards will also offer a warranty so that you don't have to purchase an extended warranty.
- Sign up for newsletters from your favorite retailers, including grocery stores, since you will do a lot of food shopping this time of year.
- Create holiday menus & a shopping list now, so you can buy items as they come on sale. Great sales in next few months. - November Thanksgiving might as well be the official sponsor of leftovers and because of that, food storage like plastic containers, foil, and plastic bags all tend to go on sale. - Stock up on baking supplies. - Do not wait until the last minute. You will pay the price.
- Sign up for layaway - If you intend on taking advantage of a holiday layaway program, then this is the month to sign up. It's a good way to score those big-ticket holiday purchases because you can spread out payments without racking up interest. - Some stores waive their service fee (typically around $5) during the holidays. - Usually a cancellation fee (around $10-$15), so only commit to purchases you know you can follow through on.
- Give gifts that give back. Most of us want to give back this time of year, but don't have the disposable income. Giving a gift that is made though a particular organization that supports a cause is a great way to give a gift with meaning and help others. Example: Made By Survivors.
- Give a magazine subscription! This is a gift that keeps on giving and you can get many annual subscriptions for under $10-15.
- Download money & time saving apps that will help you shop for the holidays. - Check Out Slice: It keeps all your online purchases in one place, giving you the opportunity to track packages and see what you bought all in one place. It also alerts you when the price goes down and helps you get a price adjustment. - Passbook gives you an additional discount.
- Set up travel alerts. - Use a site like Kayak or Airfarewatchdog to create an alert for your travel plans this holiday season. Chances are you'll pay a premium for holiday travel, but this way if there is a sale, you'll be the first to know. - Book early. Not only will you usually get the best fares, you will have a better chance of getting the good flights. - Consider traveling to and from other airports close to you. - Book your travel on a Tuesday 4:30 EST. - Consider traveling on the actual holiday (Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day) because sometimes you can save as opposed to the day before.
Food does add up more so at this time of year, any strategies there?
And the biggest expense is gift giving, what do you suggest to save?
And, if you have to travel over the holidays?
Track your spending on this worksheet>> Follow Emmy Award winning consumer reporter Jeanette Pavini on Twitter @jeanettepavini. For tips, ideas, and resources, visit her blog at www.coupons.com/blog. Get more great recipes and crafts by visiting us on Pinterest at pinterest.com/homeandfamilytv and follow "Home & Family" on Twitter @homeandfamilytv and Facebook. Plus, check out our YouTube channel for backstage videos.