Monday, November 24, 2008

A Spending Game Plan For Holiday Shopping

The news says that the economy should be improving, but once again – not in my neighborhood. And I think probably not in your neighborhood. With the holiday hype hitting very hard and fast right now I thought I would offer a little bit of help – or at least an idea of how to help your self

I’ll share with you a page out of my Spending Game Plan for Holiday Shopping

First you go to the government and tell them you really are a worthwhile cause and that you don’t need $700 billion. You would be happy with 1 (as in ONE) Billion, and in addition you have all kinds of relatives and references that will vouch for your qualifications to receive such a generous – ummm – errr- uhh. Let’s see just what is it we are getting? Oh never mind, on to preparedness and stretching our realistic budget! :)

As thoughts of holiday shopping and gift giving are becoming more prevalent, a spending game plan should be considered as an essential money management tool. A spending game plan, such as this one will help you control – yet enjoy holiday spending. If you already have a spending game plan in place give yourself 150 points and a huge pat on the back!

PLAN: Set aside an hour or two to pour over magazines, catalogs and consumer information for ideas and price guides.

COMPARE: Check out newspapers, catalogs, mail order, discount outlets, discount department stores, discount drug stores, etc. Price differences can be astounding! Compare with a paper and pencil in hand. Your memory is not a reliable resource. Particularly as the season gets more hectic there will be more demands on your time, memory and budget.

CONSULT: Consult with your spouse, family members, co-workers, and friends to be
sure you agree beforehand on any joint gifts that may be in the plans. Make sure that a budget amount or limit is understood by all involved.

SHARE COSTS: Combine funds to stretch the budget.

NOTEBOOK/NOTES: Carry a small notebook in your purse, wallet or pocket. Jot down
facts, sizes, ideas and dollar limits per person. Use this information as an item comparison resource and decision list.

LISTS, Lists, and more lists: Lists will help keep things under control and can be fun.
Keep the holiday lists together in a notebook or folder. Planning well this year could give you a head start on next year if you keep the lists as a resource. Use your lists as shopping tools. Plan, revise and check off items as they are purchased or replaced. In the rush, crowds and pressure this one thing alone can help you maintain budget control (along with sanity control). Do not attempt to rely on your memory. (At this time of year it’s Ok to say out loud, “I can’t remember it all! Just don’t stamp your foot at the same time.)

PLAN SHOPPING: Spread shopping out over several excursions. Don’t wait until
fatigue and desperation set in. Keep in mind calculated shopping is one of the goals in the game plan. Early on, as you plan, ask if specific items that you may be interested in purchasing are scheduled to be sale priced before Christmas. Retailers are said to be cutting prices drastically this year before the holiday, so don’t be afraid to ask for specifics for that store. Mail order items should be an early priority.

BUDGET: Has your planning taken into consideration the entire holiday season or specifically Christmas? Have you thought about and PLANNED FOR ALL the categories? Things such as; foods – treats, meals, give-aways, donations to dinners, etc., cards and postage, wrap and ribbon, homemade projects/crafts, the tree, travel, tipping, last minute miscellaneous must-haves. Some individuals have mistakenly considered only gift costs as a Christmas budget. Be realistic, but use a budget. The more detailed it is, the better money management tool it becomes.

DOLLAR LIMIT: Set it! Stay within it! When it’s gone, that’s it! Remember to estimate high and include taxes.

CREDIT CARDS: Try to use only one and set a spending limit. Keep notes or use
3 x 5 cards to immediately jot down the amounts spent. Set it up as you would a checkbook. Look at the total before spending more. There are all kinds of very small calculators to carry with you. Don’t hesitate to use one!

THE AFTER CHRISTMAS SALES: You need to remember to actually plan this economic facet into the holiday budget as much as possible. By doing so you will be able to take advantage of the “after Christmas” sales. This in turn will boost the buying power for next year’s holiday budget.

I have known people who plan to buy for birthday parties, family birthdays, wedding showers and a whole gauntlet of special days with the reduced prices. You don’t have to buy specifically Christmas oriented items. However, this one idea may take planning all year. Start now to set aside a dollar or two or three every payday, in an envelope for this very thing. That way you can build a fund to give you better buying power at the right time.

Thinking about a Preparedness Christmas? May I suggest that if you are considering
giving preparedness items as Christmas gifts that you put out a few feelers first. Find out if there are any absolute dislikes or severe allergies. The whole wheat bread and cookie mixes are nice, but only if you can or will eat them. Find out if the person has any idea at all as to what to do with dehydrated food before you give them ten cans. Ask if a cheese making kit complete with regular dry milk is what the newly-weds would truly like to have. And be sure you know the difference between brewers yeast and regular yeast before you buy someone a three-month supply!

And of course by now all of you faithful readers can fill in the blank:

Remember the c____________________. :)

By the way thanks for all of the emails and comments. It is so nice to know that you are out there and at least a few of the things in the blogs are proving to be helpful!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I am so willing to give thanks for all of the blessings in my life!

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