Surviving the Holidays 10 Tips to Help Manage Spending This Year
Riverside, CA – In just a few days, the official start of the holiday shopping season will be in full swing. Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management is providing consumers with creative money saving tips that will help them keep more of their hard earned money in their pocket. The recommendations reflect Springboard’s mission to provide and promote financial literacy for all consumers. Melinda Opperman, Springboard’s senior vice president of community outreach and industry relations advises, “By following our tips you’ll avoid starting the new year with new debt and the accompanying guilt about how much you spent.”
Opperman offers the following tips for shoppers who are feeling the gift-giving pinch this season:
- Create a budget and a list for holiday spending and gift giving in advance of buying. Include possible gifts, dollar amounts, and alternative choices. Don’t forget expenses like holiday decorations, wrapping paper, cards and postage, plus extra food costs for parties and family gatherings. Knowing how much you can truly afford to spend is a crucial first step in controlling costs.
- Establish spending limits for gifts for each person on your list and start looking for bargains early. Stick to your list and spending limits to avoid overspending.
- If it has been a challenging year financially, you may need to shrink your holiday gift list. Begin by talking with those you exchange gifts with, perhaps suggesting not exchanging gifts or mutually observing much lower dollar limits on gifts.
- Separate shopping trips (when comparing prices, quality, value, etc.) from spending trips (when making a purchase), and resist taking cash, credit cards, or a checkbook on the shopping trips.
- Pay with cash and avoid using credit cards. Charge cards tend to encourage indiscriminate spending. Credit card users often say they had no idea how much they spent on the holidays until the credit card bills arrive in January or February.
- Plan ahead – shop year-round and make a “gift drawer” or box with all your pre-holiday presents inside. Don’t forget to make a list (or note your envelope where you keep your gift receipts) of who gets what so you can keep track of what you’ve already bought.
- Wait for those sales! Watch the advertising and sale flyers for items you intend to buy.
- Liquidators, buying clubs, and factory outlet stores usually offer lower prices. Bulk buying with other family members or friends can also yield savings. Shop at off-peak times such as early morning or mid-week to avoid crows and pressure.
- Do it online. Online auctions such as eBay are great places to find bargains, but be aware of how much similar items cost at retail. Many retailers have clearance sections on their shopping sites where you can save big.
- Make more of your gifts at home. Handmade craft items, special desserts or breads and other “goodies” can help stretch a holiday budget.
While gift cards have become increasingly popular over the years, retail experts advise consumers to be cautious when giving gift cards from a struggling retailer. Under California law, bankrupt companies that are still doing business must honor gift cards. Retail experts advise that if consumers do receive gift cards this season, to use them right away.
Throughout the nation, Springboard offers assistance with money and credit management through educational programs and confidential credit counseling in both English and Spanish. Springboard offers various financial literacy workshops, including Surviving the Holidays, where consumers learn how to prepare costs associated with the holidays, manage holiday spending and begin the New Year without holiday debt. In addition to free educational seminars, Springboard also offers interactive financial tools on their website, www.credit.org, to assist consumers in managing their money.
About Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management
SPRINGBOARD® Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit personal financial education and counseling organization founded in 1974. Springboard is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency and a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a national organization of nonprofit credit counseling agencies, and a member of the Association of Independent Credit Counseling Agencies. The agency offers personal financial education and assistance with credit counseling, housing counseling, debt and money management through educational programs and confidential counseling. Springboard is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, signifying the highest standards for agency governance, fiscal integrity, counselor certification and service delivery policies. The agency provides pre-bankruptcy counseling and debtor education as mandated by the bankruptcy reform law. The agency offers nationwide phone counseling services and has locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas for in-person counseling sessions. Not all types of counseling are available in-person at all locations, please call for details. For more information on Springboard, call 800.449.9818 or visit their web site at www.credit.org.