Five Tips to Keep Your Finances Merry and Your Holidays Bright

The holidays were never meant to be marked by stress and anxiety. But all too often, the most wonderful time of the year becomes less about spending time with loved ones and more about overscheduling and overspending.

Follow these holiday shopping and spending tips to keep your finances happy during the holidays.

  1. Set a realistic budget. Figure out exactly how much money you have to spend. Factor in wrapping paper, holiday cards and postage.
  2. Make your holiday shopping list After your budget has been set, create a list of everyone for whom you intend to buy. Don’t forget to include hostess gifts for parties you’ll attend, a gift for your boss and a present for that family gift exchange. Consider purchasing a few small gifts for surprise visitors or a last-minute party. Keep the list handy so you can stay on track.
  3. Do your homework. There’s nothing worse than buying a gift at full price, only to see another retailer selling it cheaper. Before you hit the stores, do your homework and compare prices for the gifts you know you want to buy. From newspaper ads to online shopping that offers free shipping and other holiday deals, do your research and create a “plan of attack” to help your money work harder for you.
  4. If all else fails, give a gift card If you’ve had trouble finding the perfect gift or you simply run out of time, give the gift that everyone’s sure to enjoy – a gift card. Buying gift cards at places like Kroger can help you earn points to use toward groceries and gas.
  5. Ready, set, shop for deals. After you’ve made your list, set your budget and done your homework, you’re ready to shop until you drop. The holidays are a great time to take advantage of price-match guarantees, free shipping and other end-of-year deals.
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