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Surviving the holidays in the black
Nov 29, 2012 | 2828 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Financial Literacy 
Manager, Zions Bank
Don MILNE Financial Literacy Manager, Zions Bank

The weeks immediately after Thanksgiving have some screaming shopping deals. How can you get through the day keeping your budget in the black? Too many people end up in the red. Last year, Time magazine reported that 14 million Americans were still paying for the previous year’s holiday shopping and the average shopper overspent his or her budget by over 20 percent.  Without a plan, this could be you this year.

Here are six guaranteed ways to finish the holidays with money left in your pocket:

1. You can afford to buy more presents if you leave yourself off your Christmas list. How lame is it to spend your gift giving money on yourself?

2. Follow Santa’s example by making a list and checking it twice. Decide in advance how much you are going to spend. If you want some free help, use the Zions Bank eZ Budget online tool: If you spend an hour setting up a holiday spending plan and it helps you save a couple hundred dollars, that’s a great use of your time. Don’t you wish you could make that kind of money in your regular job?

3. Leave the credit card home if you think you will spend more than you have in your holiday budget. Better safe than sorry. This is especially important if you don’t pay your balance off each month since it will result in added interest costs.

4. Think twice before you use special store financing deals to pay for your purchases. For example, for most people 90-days-same-as-cash never works out. Interest rates can be 30 percent or more. Also, if a store offers to give you a 20 percent discount on your purchase, but you end up spending 50 percent more than you planned, how did that save you any money?

5. If you spend with cash, get a coupon organizer and split up the amount of money you plan to spend on each gift recipient. If you shop with a debit card, use an index card or a smart phone app to keep track of each gift recipient. Always stay under your gift budget for each person. 

6. Many people are hesitant to carry hundreds of dollars in cash to shop. If your cash is lost or stolen, you’re out of luck. I would recommend using only cash for stocking-stuffer purchases. First of all, it won’t be that much money and, second of all, it is too easy to overspend on stocking stuffers because they are small dollar items and you don’t notice how they add up.

Follow these six rules and you should not be surprised to find yourself with a nice Christmas bonus Сextra money you didn’t spend that can go back into savings; it could be a good way to save up for Black Friday 2013.

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What is your advice for surviving the holiday season with your finances intact?

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