11/04/2011

Holiday Savings Planning

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays. An American Express survey found its customers plan to spend approximately $1,500 this year on gifts alone.Sale doesn't always mean savings. That's why it is important to create your savings plan for the holiday season. Holidays -- once a time for family, food and gifts -- are now prime seasons of financial peril. When using credit cards to purchase items, it's easy to forget how much has been actually spent. Here we've written some guidelines to help make the holidays manageable. Visit our page here on Holiday Savings Planning for more information.

Some Suggestions to Follow:
• Decide on how much you can afford to spend
• Budget in hand, write down your shopping lists for the year
• Look at the list and see where you can cut back
• Don’t forget to include the extras when cratingyour budget
• Plan your gift buying shopping trips
• Use store’s convenient lay-a-way plan, if unable to pay for full item
• Make gifts at home: baked goods, picture collages, or arts and crafts

Additional Resources:

Holiday Meals without the Stress

It's that time again! The carols, the holly, the mistletoe (oh la la!) and unfortunately the stress. Between wrapping gifts, preparing meals and decorating who doesn't get stressed over the holidays? Here are some ideas and resources for filling hungry stomachs without emptying out your piggybank. Plan your menu, shop for your groceries and extra things needed, and begin making preparations early. View our page here on Holiday Grocery Shopping: How to Bring Home the Bacon Without Breaking the Pig.
Planning meals may seem strange when most of us are hustling to get the job done. A planned menu saves time, money, and reduces stress. No more extra trips to the supermarket!  A menu plan also reduces impulse spending and improves good nutrition. Thus, there is more time to create healthy sidedishes and salads complementing your meal.
Remember:
  • Write the date of when you purchased the items. Take advantage of plentiful coupons and rebates in advance, by buying non-perishable items when they are on sale. If you buy certain items regularly, stock up for additional savings.
  • Know what you need. Then you won’t be tempted to spend on extra items
  • When you are planning that menu, remember you aren't feeding 10,000. Pick a few great things and make them gret this holiday season.Or better yet, host a potluck and have each member of the family bring their favorite hoilday items.
  • Many grocery stores double coupons, but some will even triple them from time to time. Increase your savings by combining a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for the same item.
  • Be an early bird, and beat those early birds! Wake up and get those savings! Some stores offer huge sales in accordance with the holiday, or during certain times of the day for a few hours. Go there early in order to bag the best deals on items. Success comes to those who prepare and put in the extra effort. So roll up your sleeves, read the papers, and find those coupons. 
Extra Resources:
  • Holiday Meal Planner- this helpful guide outlines the date, occation, what food items are needed and who is bringing them to the table
  • Grocery List- here is an helpful grocery list outline to help plan your shopping trip.
  • 20 ways to spend less on groceries.- 20 helpful tips for spending less.
  • Hoilday Turkey Dinner Calculator- from www.csgnetwork.com, this calculator finds the approximate amount of turkey along with the appropriate quantity of stuffing (dressing) and gravy needed to feed a family. There is tabled information below on thawing and cooking.
  • Coupon Guide: learn strategies to make the most of your couponing.

Holiday Gift Giving Resources

The holidays should be a time for happiness and celebration. Most families look forward to gift-giving, holiday activities, and visits with families. However, it can also be stressful with hectic shopping trips, budget planning, and the holiday “hustle and bustle”. Focus on alternative gifts to your family and friends without spending a fortune. For more information on how to save while giving, visit our full page Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays: Gifts from the Heart
Quick and Easy Shopping Tips:
• Don’t wait until the day before the big event to shop
• Leave the credit cards at home
• Charge carefully
• Get organized
•Remember that online items will cost more due to shipping charges 


Interesting Gift Suggestions:
  • Create a brag book in minutes by uploading images to a CD and bringing them to a photo-printing kiosk.
  • Prove that eco-cleaning does work and can smell nice, too. Fill a pretty bottle with a homemade cleaner scented with essential oils. Find easy-to-make formulas at ehow.com. On the home page, type in “how to make green cleaning supplies.”
  • Make a recipe booklet with your favorites handwritten on cute cards. Punch a hole in the corner of each and tie together with a festive ribbon. Offer a dessert sample with the booklet.
  • Dip pretzels in melted store-bought almond bark and lay them on wax paper. Decorate with red and green sugar crystals, then package in holiday-themed cellophane bags.
More Resources:
  • Gift Coupons- a personal coupon book is inexpensive gift that is loved by all.
  • Holiday Stocking Stuffers-  Keep track of the little items that add up on your shopping list with this easy to use chart.
  • Gift Giving List:  100's of ideas for gifts they will remember, but your budget won't

New Year's Resolutions Now

New Year's Day may seem distant, but don't let that stop you from making a resolution today to start saving. Your personal wealth is always an important thing to keep striving for. With so many resources, it's easy to find effective ways to save. Find out just how much your assets are worth with our personal wealth estimator, learn about savings and investments, and take control of your debit and credit. Learn how to save for auto purchases, emergencies, or a home. Take control now.
Savvy Savings: Information You Need to Know About Savings Accounts and Resources
Budgeting Resources: What to Remember About Your Budget

Tips for Saving:
  • Make a budget: Visit our Virginia Saves blog for tips here
  • Save your loose change.  Putting aside fifty cents a day over the course of a year will allow you to save nearly $200.
  • Take the amount the item costs and divide it into your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself, are those shoes really worth five long hours of work?
  • Shop for food with a list and stick to it.  People who do food shopping with a list, and buy little else, spend much less money.
  • Communicate by e-mail rather than by phone.  If you're on-line, e-mail communications are virtually free.
  • For more savings tips click here
  • Learn about the four types of savings recommended by financial advisors on our Virginia Saves Blog- Four Golden Rings: The Four Types of Savings
  • Become a Virginia Saver! Enroll now and take your first steps to building long term personal wealth.
  • Learn how to save for emergencies, a home, or automobile- Click here.
Earn More Money Before the Holiday Season:
  • Apply for a seasonal position: A lot of retailers hire on new members to their teams during the holiday season. Not only is it a way to build cash, but also can be an easy way to establish contacts, build your resume, and learn important new job skills.
  • Sell unwanted items like DVDs, video games, or comic books to specialty stores which generally give you a better deal. For collector’s items or items of higher value, list online through auction websites.
  • Hold a garage or yard sale to get rid of your remaining items or things of lower value. If you don’t have much to sell, consider hosting a joint or neighborhood sale to increase traffic.
  • Take advantage of opportunities around the neighborhood.
Controlling Your Credit:
  • Gifts bought on a credit card usually end up costing more in fiance charges
  • Unexpected post-holiday expenses might postpone your credit card payment plan, lengthening your credit card debt.
  • Set a predetermined spending limit
  • Don't apply for new credit cards just because of the discount
  • Visit our blog and learn more about the full cost of holiday credit card spending here: The Cost of Holiday Credit
  • Use our Credit Card Cozy as a reminder to think before you spend.
Tax Tips
  • Get your free Credit Report: The only "free" credit report can be found at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ you are entitled to one free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. This website is your portal to get all three reports 
  • Avoid High-Cost Anticipation Loans. These loans actually worth more than you get. They have high interest rates that can sometimes cost even more than your tax credit. By planning ahead, you can save money so that you will not have to take out one of these costly loans, and have more money to put forth towards savings
  • Stockpile Savings: Save as much as you can in preparation for your lean season. Even if there are no unexpected costs during the year, having the extra cash provides a cushion as well as financial security

Holiday Decorating on a Budget

A lot of extra money is wasted over the holiday season. Conveniences such as professional gift wrapping and novelty attachments can really add up. By creating your own holiday spending plan, you can organize your inventory of items for each person on your list. Also, it becomes easy to see how much you are actually spending verses the estimated cost. For more information visit: Decking the Halls: Decorating on a Budget

When Decorating For the Holidays:
• Consider inexpensive decorating strategies, such as children's artwork and crafts
• Inspect and inventory holiday decorations and only purchase items to enhance current decorations
• Check light strands for cracked or broken bulbs and replace bulbs. The bulbs are less expensive.


10 Ways to Save:
1. Decorate with holiday ribbon. The ribbon can be tied to curtains, banisters, windows, and placed on mantles with a few unlit candles.
2. Bring the outdoors indoors. Don't be afraid to use pine cones and needles for decorations. The cones can also be painted or dipped in glitter for unique ornaments.
3.Want a unique table runner? Use an old holiday scarf instead!
4.Wrap your doors in Christmas wrapping paper and attach large bows make from fabric or purchased at your local craft store.
5. Use a holiday pop-up book as a centerpiece. Just open the book up to a desirable picture and place the open book in the center of your table.
6.Trim door frames, window frames and the edges of mirrors with Christmas garland.
7. For convincing "snow" on your tree  lay lengths of rolled cotton, available at drugstores, on the branches.
8. Stuffing potpourri in bowls or baskets is another great idea to make a beautiful centerpiece.
9. Tie cinnamon sticks with ribbons and hang them from the mantle, Christmas tree, etc.
10. Make your own garlands with the help of popcorn, buttons, beads, cranberries, charms, candies, etc. Use these garlands for decorating the house.


More Resources: