Monday, December 7, 2009

'Tis the season to be... Broke?!: 6 Smart Saving Tips for the Holiday Season

Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the season, came and went. Many people brag about how much money they saved in exchange for waking up early and waiting in the cold on long lines. But what’s the point of “saving” all that money on Black Friday, just to go into debt a month later shopping for Christmas gifts?

I’m sure we all don’t mean to spend as much as we do, but this year let’s try to turn intention into action. Here are 6 simple tips on how to make this Christmas more jolly and less stressful on you and your bank account.

1. Try to limit your gift giving to family and closest friends. If you’re a gift-giver like me it might be tough to limit the amount of people you shop for, but you should use the recession to your advantage. It won’t be around for long! Categorize your gift giving to those people who absolutely desire store bought gifts (ie: toys for kids), those who can appreciate homemade gifts, and those who will cherish the thoughtful nature of a personalized card.

2. Make a shopping list and don’t depart from it! Identifying what you’re going to buy ahead of time (ideally before you enter the store) saves the last-minute pressure of buying because you need “something” to give.

3. Once you have a list and ideal budget, make a commitment to it!
There’s no excuse for not taking a couple of minutes to sit down with pen and paper and estimating the amount of money you feel comfortable spending this holiday season. Count on the money you already make and have in your account, instead of any bonuses or credit limit you’re hoping to increase.

4. Carry cash instead of debit or credit cards.
It’s a sure way to keep from spending more than what you’ve allotted for your Christmas budget. If you have a hard time disciplining yourself, this is a great way to make sure you don’t have access to money you shouldn’t be spending. Some people believe that psychologically, the plastic “tricks us into forgetting we are deducting money from our account,” so this year use paper instead of plastic.

5. Do not open store cards.
According to Accion USA, “Many people find that their credit score goes down in January, and the dip in the score is usually due to two reasons:
1. High balances on their credit cards (from used credit and unpaid balances)
2. The amount of inquiries in their reports is relatively high (don’t be deceived- 10% off your first purchase is not worth the drop in your credit score when opening several new cards in a short period of time)."

6. Remember, Christmas is just one day- Is it financially sound to go into the New Year in debt over gifts? Can some of those on your “store bought” list wait 2 days after Christmas to get their gifts? If so, why don’t you wait to catch those after-Christmas sales? Think about the bigger picture instead of whoever might be upset at you and “de-friend” you on FaceBook because you sent them an e-card instead of the generic soap and lotion set you usually send them. Focus on beginning 2010 in good financial standing, let positive spending habits spill over into the New Year.

To a happy and financially healthy holiday season,

Her Journey Team

Tracey Calvo Clarke, 24, enjoys stumbling upon great writing, food, and travel deals. Her ideal job gives her the freedom to write about travel experiences, personal enhacement and entertainment events. She has been a member of Her Journey's Support Team for about 6 months and looks forward to seeing what's in store for the magazine


  1. Those are some great tips! I wrote about the importance of using cash instead of credit cards on my blog too.
    I never get the store credit cards even though it's so annoying that they always ask you to.

  2. These are great tips. It really isn't that hard to spend less for the holidays. It's so doable but it takes discipline. I know I've done 2, 3, and 4 at one point or another. Not this year though. I'm definitely going to put these pointers into practice. I'm starting 2010 in the positive.

  3. Thanks Jill and Miss J for your feedback. It's so hard not to be tempted to take plastic when shopping because we like the comfortable "endless money" thought, we hate being restricted (at least I know I do).
    In the long run, you end up realizing that you went overboard but once again you don't feel the consequences of your actions until that bill comes the end of the month or beginning of the next month. So it's also an out-of-mind/out-of-sight experience.
    I was reading about "delayed gratification" and thought it was a great idea to put into practice. For example, we are so used to impulsive shopping and feel like we have to buy everything RIGHT NOW when in reality if you stop to think ... Where you looking for what you're about to buy before you went in the store? What would happen if you wait a week and then return (might it be on sale, or no longer something you DESPERATELY need)? So, it's also a great exercise in restrain both physically and mentally.

  4. So true Tracey! The other day I saw a coat that I REALLY wanted, but thankfully I put on my thinking cap and told myself that I didn't need it right away. I waited a week and there was a sale and I got my coat for 40% off! And I don't know about you, but a discount makes me love my purchase THAT much more. lol. I must've told everyone that story every single time I wear the coat. lol