Friday, November 12, 2010

It is the Spending Season

The seasonal catalogs have arrived, TV commercials are filled with ideas for gifts so, there is no doubt the “Spending Season” has arrived! No wonder it is so easy for us to over spend. We receive reinforcements daily that help us get caught up in the holiday spirit and spend more than we intended. After all, the many of us think the bills for those expenses won’t arrive until January.
To manage our spending, we all need a PLAN! Understanding the marketing ploys of both merchants and credit card companies is the foundation of developing a plan to manage your money over the holidays.
Determining what you are able to spend – not what you want to spend – is the next step. Avoid impulse buying as merchants show you all the latest “technology gadgets” or “fashions”, or “must haves.” To avoid making spur-of-the-moment purchases, make a list of everyone that will be receiving a gift from you, along with gift ideas for each. You can change your mind IF you find a better bargain, but don’t fall into the trap of buying two gifts instead of the one you can afford.

With list in hand, start looking for the best places with the best bargains. Some love the hustle, bustle and physical contact of the merchandise found in stores. After checking the newspapers, flyers, and available coupons, the process can be exhilarating and exhausting. There are some great advantages of store shopping: the instant reward of having the merchandise now, you know exactly the quality you’re getting; and if necessary exchanges can be made if you find a better bargain. The downside may be finding a parking place near the stores you want to shop.
On-line shopping done in your PJ’s with a cup of cocoa in front of a fireplace may be more appealing to some shoppers. You save time, gas, and possibly money, but there are some pitfalls. Price comparison can be quick and some sites offer gift wrapping, and direct delivery to your recipients; however, the merchandise may not live up to the photo, be out-of-stock, or the shipping isn’t included adding to the cost of the gift. A few words of caution – make sure the site is reputable and secure – look for the https in the URL line when entering your credit card number.
Spending money in any venue can be exciting; however, if you find yourself with less money this year and looking for methods to reduce spending. You can be an early shopper, look for deals, use coupons, and think twice about what you are giving. But, spending from the heart with a hand created items can be a real treasure, basket of baked goodies, and/or “Gifts of Service” coupons to family or friends are meaningful and useable all year long. We sometimes forget, that it isn’t the amount of money you spend, but the amount of time and thought given to the process that maybe the real spending you can do this year.

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