A 'Debt-Free' Holiday Season

With the economic crunch that has seemingly embraced us all, it's fair to say that the Christmas tree isn't the only thing that will be trimmed this year's end. Here are some tips that will enable you to not only more fully enjoy the time you'll spend with family and friends this Holiday season, but make it more affordable as well.

  • If you usually give presents to your brothers, sisters and their children, agree with your siblings to only give presents to the nieces and nephews. This can save quite a bit of money in the long run.
  • Shop early – very early. Begin holiday shopping during the summer months at stores that normally offer sales every week
  • Make your holiday list ahead of time. Decide how much you are willing to spend for each person and stick to it. Keep in mind that in January you will be getting those bills and you don't want to be in difficulty paying them off.
  • Pay off all your holiday expenses beforehand. You can accomplish this by shopping early and paying with cash. If you must use a credit card, pay it off when you receive the monthly statement. This will decrease the amount of bills you receive after the holiday season is over. You'll be glad you did.
  • Buy ornaments, wrapping, bows, and decorations early. How early? The day after Christmas is when every cards and ornaments typically go on sale for as much as 50- to 75 percent off the normal price. If you can make it a point to buy these items immediately after Christmas, you will have enough to carry you through the next two or three years.
  • Open a Christmas club account at your bank. It's very easy to do and a great way to save for the Holidays. You can begin in February and put away as little as five dollars a week. By October, you will have accumulated a tidy little with which to purchase gifts.
  • Make your own decorations. This can be a very enjoyable experience for the entire family. Everyone can pitch in and make ornaments for the tree, wrap gifts and decorated bags. You can also make holiday cards on your computer send them out through the Internet.
  • Buy gifts online this year. It will not only save you time standing in lines at department stores, it can also save you money as well. In fact, you're probably receiving emails from stores right now offering discounted merchandise. Take them up on it.
  • Use coupons to buy holiday gifts. There are a myriad of online coupon sites where you can save a bundle on lots of different items.
  • Consider giving gift cards. They've become quite popular over the last several years. By doing so, you can set and stick to a definite limit on the amount you wish to spend and, at the same time, the recipient will be able to buy a gift that they'll really be pleased with.

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