The holidays are coming and bringing the “shopping season” with them. While you may think you’re doing something good for the economy by going out and spending to your heart’s content, getting gifts for everyone on your list without setting a budget and swiping your credit card for home decor and other holiday favorites, ask yourself this: what effect are my actions going to have on my OWN economy?Unless you are a member of the Federal Reserve, the President of the United States, a potential candidate, or a talk show host, the American economy is not your responsibility. What you ARE responsible for, however, is your budget and your own finances. It’s possible to be in very good financial shape in your personal life, even as the country struggles. And if you’re already struggling, you can still get out of hot water through smart money management. During the holidays, that may not sound like much fun, but if you begin planning now, you can have a wonderful, beautiful, meaningful and exciting holiday season without overspending. Some plan-ahead ideas: – Salvage what you can from last year, your basement, thrift shops, and neighbors for home decor and clothes. Before you buy anything new for the holidays, be prepared with a list of what you really, really need to make the holidays enjoyable. If last year’s holiday dress still fits…why not wear it? – Get together with friends and family for a ‘holiday stuff’ exchange. Ask everyone to bring holiday items and new gifts they have no use for, and either sell them to each other at a low price (with profits going to benefit a charity) or simply trade with each other. Either way, everyone saves money, and everyone comes away with less clutter and more of what they want. After all, one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure. – Make a list of people you want to give gifts to NOW, check it twice, and start shopping. First, shop your own home, and then check out local discount stores, flea markets, and yard sales. Without looking ‘cheap’, you can come up with some great buys if you plan ahead. Last minute purchases often are more expensive because you have no choice but to buy what you can, quickly. – Wherever possible, make gifts instead of buying them. You’ll find lots of ideas for fun, homemade gifts online or in craft stores. With some advance planning, your holiday season will be affordable, exciting, fun, and, as a little bonus, stress-free!

Published November 1, 2010
This entry was posted in Money Sense.

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