Bringing that ho-ho-ho to your holiday can leave a bit of a dent in your wallet. The Gallup research organization says each American will spend--on average--$715 on gifts this year. How much do you plan on spending? If you're like many people, probably more than you bargained for. Here are some quick tips to help you set a budget and stick with it.
1. Set a limit. Look over your finances to determine what you can afford. Remember to tally up the cost of gifts, wrapping, holiday foods, entertaining, decorating, cards and postage.
2. Trim your list. Instead of buying for your extended family and friends, agree as a group to cut gift-giving all together. If that doesn't work, consider drawing names to shorten the shopping list.
3. Make gifts yourself. For people working more than one job--or those with lives too busy for regular baking, crafting or cooking--a homemade treat is a welcome gift. Use your talents to bake biscotti, make a scrapbook, or offer coupons for some much-needed handyman work.
4. Use cash. Once you know your budget, leave the credit cards at home. It's easier to track your spending when the dollars are right in front of you. If you prefer to use a debit card, or plan to shop online, be sure to enter each purchase into your check register as you shop so that you can keep tabs of your balance.
5. Take advantage of your CU discounts. Credit union members get great discounts and cash back just for shopping at their favorite online stores. Log onto the Shop America website to get your credit union member savings!