Itâ??s Cyber Monday â?? if you are reading this, have you done your shopping yet?
Here are some quick links and information:
Get your Fashion Fix!
The University of South Carolina is giving students and the fashion lover in you a front row seat to fashion! Janet sits down with Fashion Group International member Robert Butts for details on the head-turning event. Get ticket info HERE.
The Holiday Hangover has nothing to do with the eggnog
Nick Wodogaza from Palmetto Citizens joined us to talk about ways to avoid that awful day in January when all your merriment and mirth from 6 weeks of Christmas shopping all comes due. Here are some of his tips:
Plan to Start Early With a plan, most people are surprised year after year at how hard Christmas hits their finances. Ideally you were able to save up for Christmas gifts so you can limit credit card debt. Even if it is mid-November, you can still start saving.Last-minute shopping usually leads to overspending at Christmas. Start your shopping early, ideally before Thanksgiving, to give yourself time to find the best deals and make smart purchases.
Create a Budget After every Christmas, so many of us look at huge credit card bills wondering, "where did all that money go?" Just like any other area of our lives, if we don't plan a budget, spending will probably be out of control.- Add a buffer: Whatever you come up with as a holiday budget, add at least 10%. So if you are at your limit, try to cut back to about 90% of that budget. Leave yourself a buffer to allow flexibility to adjust your plans if you can't find a gift for the amount planned.- Don't forget the everyday bills: Remember the mortgage (or rent), loan payments, food bills, utilities and other monthly bills still need to be paid - and the consequences can be serious if they're not. Even though it's Christmas, your priorities should be in order.- Plan the Christmas gift list: Determine who you need to buy a present for and have a least a rough idea of what to get each person. If money is tight, consider one gift for your sibling's whole family instead of a gift for each person. Suggest exchanging names, or get creative and give handmade gifts.- Checking it twice: Go through the list and think about who is on it. Did you forget anyone? Can you eliminate anyone?- Be practical: Do you really need to buy a $40 bottle of wine when a $12 bottle will do just fine?
Consider a "Gift Truce" with Family & Friends During these difficult times, more and more family and friends would welcome an opportunity to have one less gift to buy. If that is not an option, at least considering suggesting a spending limit.
Stick to Your Budget You created a budget to follow it - right? If you decided to spend $20 on Bobby, then you have to be vigilant to not buy him that $50 blender that is just glistening at the department store. We all know there is nothing more fun than giving great presents, but you have to be honest with yourself as those January bills are going to hurt you more than anyone else.
Get Creative Give an "experiences" gift, such a cooking lessons or a manicure. When you're strapped for cash you have to be creative to get the upper hand. Plus, a creative gift can often beat out the most expensive gift. To give the best gifts, think about the recipient and listen for clues on what they're interested in.- Start by planning carefully: Do you know all of the presents you need to buy presents for? What about holiday parties? Do you need to bring a gift for a person or gift exchange?- Be flexible: Don't worry if you don't spend as much as you planned on someone, or if you spend $20 extra on your younger child than your older one. Unless you got the younger child a whole lot more presents than the older too, they will never notice.
Look for Sales, Including Shopping Online Always be on the lookout for sales and remember that a lot of brick-and-mortar stores can't compete with the prices of online stores, even with the added shipping costs.
Do Your Own Credit Checks If you are going to use a credit card, shop around and compare terms. Some cards charge high interest rates, but provide interest-free periods or discounts. Budget for all these costs and monitor the payment due dates.- Make sure you are watching your credit card usage. This has happened to almost everyone at some point. You use your credit card to buy your sister a new shirt, then you swipe again when you find the perfect gift for your mom, and so forth. Then, fast forward a few weeks into January when the nice fat credit card bill arrives. All of those small purchases have been tallied up and the result is a credit card bill that will take months to pay off.- Whatever the deal, whatever the temptation, don't borrow from high-cost lenders. The initial savings and convenience may prove to be a false economy.- If you can afford to pay for your goods outright by cash, check or debit card, don't be persuaded to take out extended credit agreements unless they really do work out cheaper.- Planning budgeting and organization are key to avoid getting into debt at Christmas and beyond. If your spending runs out of control, you can soon find that debt is not only a problem at Christmas, but can become a way of life.
Couples: Check In With Each Other To manage spending at Christmas, plan on weekly huddles to make sure you're staying on track. Write down what you've spent, check people off your list as you buy their gifts and keep the lines of communication open.
Enjoy! The Christmas season is about giving freely of yourself, spending the holidays with those you love and relaxing. Hopefully these tips help you enjoy the holiday shopping season a little more this year, with a little less stress and frustration when it comes to holiday shopping. The holiday season brings with it beloved traditions, joyous memories and happy moments with friends and family - but it doesn't have to bring financial stress.
Start Planning & Saving for Next Christmas Once Christmas is over it's worth looking at what you did well and what you didn't. Learn from your mistakes and start planning how you will do things differently next year. This might also be a good time to start saving for next Christmas!
Calculators & Additional Resources At Palmetto Citizens, we can provide a wealth of information to help you manage your money more effectively. With free access to budgeting software, financial counseling and other resources, we are dedicated to ensuring you have all the necessary tools to achieve your financial goals. For more information visit us online at www.palmettocitizens.org/resources/money.html.
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