Amy Hannold, FamilyTimeandMoney.com
The holiday commercials have begun. They can become the makings for a “holiday hangover” if we don’t begin with a plan. The busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving, is just days away. Here are a few “Survival Tactics” and “Creativity Inspirers”
Coordinate Your Calendars:
Sit down now with your family to pencil in both a budget and a calendar of events. Discuss priorities and traditions you each want to enjoy. Write in your calendar all church, school, family and community events. Follow that with designated “Family Dates” to enjoy family traditions and the creation of homemade gifts. Plan some “down time” between activities and travel to and from holiday events.
Coordinating your calendars now will save you many last-minute rushes and over-expenditures.
Prepare to Prepare:
After your calendar is coordinated, make a list of supplies for gifts, meals, and activities. Search your home inventories for gifts you may have bought and forgot, and for supplies. Once you know what you have, you can then find ways to acquire what you need. Utilize sales, coupons, and promotions as much as you can to save on your needs – but don’t buy just because “it’s a good deal”. When you’ve planned your holiday expenditures, you won’t have as many expensive, last minute purchases.
Credit card companies are currently making up for what they think they’re going to lose once new regulations go into effect in 2010. Rules are changing and credit will be harder to come by. Increases in rates and penalty charges are now in effect for many cardholders – so watch those statements and pay on time. Store-specific credit cards are usually the most expensive to have and the most damaging to your credit score. Refuse offers of extra discounts or free gifts to open department store credit lines. What you gain in the short term, for that purchase is minuscule compared to what you’ll pay for that limited credit later.
Don’t consider your credit card limits to be your limits. If these are temptingly too high, contact your creditors to lower them. When using credit shop for the lowest rates (read the fine print first) and ask your creditors for their best rate. Sometimes a phone call can payoff with a lower rate or a credited late payment- just for asking. If you don’t get a satisfactory rate, visit Bankrate.com to compare rates.
Giving Gifts Which Are “Outside the Box”
Even if you’re not creatively talented, you can customize theme gift baskets. Think of the receiver of the gift and their interests, needs and little luxuries. Consider these appreciated, useful gifts that can be affordable to any budget:
Coupons for services, time and talent: Give of yourself to someone throughout the coming year. Offer to babysit, shop for, treat to lunch, help around their house, assist them with a desired project (home organization, painting, cleaning, etc).
Emergency preparedness tools and other necessities: Students need a replenishing of school supplies and everyone can use something that will help them in an emergency. Flashlights, batteries, car blankets, first aid kits, plastic storage boxes and other items make great, affordable gifts.
Magazine subscriptions: Give a gift that delights all year. Bestdealmagazines.com and amazon.com offer frequent promotions or discounts for magazine subscriptions. If possible, buy a current issue of the magazine or include a gift card naming the magazine gift.
Entertainment Gifts: Dining certificates can be purchased for many restaurants throughout the country at Restaurants.com. Register for their email and you’ll be informed of 50-80% off discount promotions. The certificated can be printed at time of purchase and are valid for one year. Your local radio or television station may offer “Half-Price” gift certificate promotions for spas, accommodations, services, dining and more. An Entertainment Book also makes a great gift (Entertainment.com). Find one for nearly any major city in the United States. Local attractions and theatres gift certificates or memberships would also make a great gift. Support the arts and give “Experience” gifts!
“Seek your joy in what you give, and not in what you get.” – Evan Roberts
“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
*Train your children to write thank you notes at an early age (begin with drawings to those who have gifted or helped them).
*Before bed, ask your child to name two things they appreciated today. Then, share two things you are thankful for (Include things your child did during the day)
* Point out the good that you see people doing
* Teach by example when you take the time to thank someone (a store clerk, a friend, etc), showing that gratitude is acceptable and encouraged.
* Offer Service (and serve someone together)
* Create family traditions that center on gratitude
* Gifts from the heart and time spent with family to make them will be remembered for years to come.