As the country settles into a recession, many consumers are looking to cut costs without compromising the Christmas cheer. The trick is to do this without maxing out the credit cards or looking cheap at the family holiday party.
American consumers will spend an average of about $830 on holiday shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation. While that figure is about 2 percent higher than last year's average, about 45 percent of consumers say they plan to spend less than they did last year.
So, what's your holiday budget? Don't know? Then you've got some homework to do.
"Before you do anything, you need to plan for your spending and prioritize things that you definitely want to have in your budget," said Clarky Davis, a debt management specialist who blogs about digging out of debt at thedebtdiva.com. This means adding up holiday expenses of gifts, meals, travel, cards, postage and other costs and then deciding where to cut back.
One way to cut the gift budget is to focus on the kids this year and skip the adult exchange altogether. Once you decide who you're buying for, Davis recommends assigning a spending limit.
"You've got to stay focused on what you have to spend," Davis said. "You're going to see a ton of great temptations."
Davis suggests consumers give off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Burlington Coat Factory a try.
"You can find the same stuff and save 20 to 60 percent off the full retail price," she said.
• Stick to your list and don't buy for sales sake.
• Invest in decorative lights with energy-saving light bulbs.
• Look at what's in your cart, basket or hand. If there's something not on your list, put it back.
• Buy a smaller tree this year.
• Spread gift-buying out to avoid deadline pressure when you're not thinking as much about the price tag.
• Be in the right frame of mind. Eat breakfast before you leave home, and pack a snack and water bottle to keep your energy up.
• Check out mypoints.com for a cheap way to get gift cards.
Article by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood | The Grand Rapids Press
Monday December 01, 2008
Tags: Clarky Davis Money Sen$e