Issue 24, Volume 85
Dec. 12, 2012
Budgeting the less than jolly side of the season
While the holidays are about spending time with family, friends and loved ones, it’s undeniable the holiday season is also about spending money.
Many people forget to adhere to a budget and end up overspending.
“It’s not too late in the season to set a budget, which is really the important thing,” said Kelli Grant of SmartMoney.com, adding, “It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of the expenses that you have people usually tend to forget about things like cards, holiday travel, decoration, new outfits for holiday parties.”
On the list, be sure to detail what you want to spend on and balance that with how much money is available to you so you don ‘t run over budget.
Grant recommends consumers research whether or not a sale is the best sale, to seek out coupons and to take advantage of any sort of free reward programs offered.
“[Be] careful about spending. You want to be careful not to put more on your credit card than you can pay off in a given month because a lot of the rates can be very high,” explained Grant. “You’re not really saving 30 to 40 per cent if in the end you’re paying a lot of interest on that card.”
Grant advises shoppers to be critical of sales and warns to avoid mindlessly buying items if their on sale “because we assume with all of these sales [that they are great deals], but there’s been a lot of studies that point to it’s not necessarily the best [time for sales.”
“The bottom line is that you need to be critical of what you are buying to make sure that it is actually of value” said Grant.
Budget Tips for the Holidays:
DIY: You can go the Do It Yourself route and make a gift for someone. You can upcycle an old object into something new; think turning an old skirt into a
decorative pillow case. Nothing says that you care more than a homemade gift that you put both time and effort into.
SALES: Shop for the sales and discounts, but, as Grant warned, remain vigilant as oftentimes that sale isn’t the best price available.
AVOID IMPULSE BUYING: Make a budget and a list, and ensure that you adhere to it. It’s easy to get out of hand purchasing gifts for those you care about, so make sure that you stick to your budget. Keep track of your expenses with apps for your smartphone, such as Mint, a free app for the iPhone, or Money Wise for Android users.
AVOID LAST MINUTE SHOPPING: Buy as soon as possible. Retailers have been known to raise prices in the days before the holidays, so it’s best to buy early.
CREDIT CARD RESPONSIBILITY: Don’t overcharge to your charge card. Interest rates are incredibly high on the majority of credit cards, sometimes between 19 and 28 per cent. As Grant noted, that sale might end up costing you far more than you anticipated if you don’t pay your bill in full.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.