Published On: Thu, Nov 5th, 2015

I Should Not Be a Grinch This Christmas…

Holiday Helper

What’s wrong with me? This is ridiculous. I should be able to keep my hard earned cash during the holiday season without feeling guilty.

And then you get caught up in the bells and whistles of the holiday season. Here’s how it goes.

Based on your family dynamics, the ultimate vision is to have a merry season and then the commercials roll in, your loved ones start throwing hints. And in your mind you’re probably thinking next year I’ll start taking action on my financial goals.

You recall your fondest memory of being connected to friends and family members smiling and sharing holiday memories. You hear your favorite holiday tune playing in the background and you say to yourself “I should not be a Grinch this Christmas”?

I say to you, maybe you should be a combination of naughty and nice. Here’s why, every year Americans collectively spend billions of dollars during the holiday season, much of it on gifts. Unfortunately, too many people overspend on holiday presents and end up starting the New Year with large credit card bills that take them months to eliminate.

According to the National Retail Federation sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) are expected to increase a solid 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion. For consumers who overextend themselves and choose to finance their holiday spending with credit cards, could end up paying for that holiday gift months after its purchase.

Taking a few minutes now to plan your holiday spending could help you avoid taking on debt that stretches well beyond the New Year.

EBT Deposits. I know you don’t want to hear this, but during the holiday season focus on making EBT (Emotional Bank of Togetherness) deposits instead of financial withdrawals. Extend your presence and NOT your presents. Also, choosing cheaper traditions such as making holiday craft donations, seeing a holiday show at the local community center, touring the neighborhood lights instead of going to the mall, or using daily deal catcher like Groupon and LivingSocial for frugal discounts on local attractions.

Plan Your Spending. A bargain isn’t a smart purchase if it compromises your overall financial health. Before you decide how much you can afford to spend, review your financial goals.  Many are distracted by the need to give material possessions than focusing on what really matters most. Here’s a tweetable moment: concentrate on meaningful gifts over overpriced gift.

Budget and Track. Be like Santa and check you list twice to see who has been naughty or nice. Set a general spending cap and be sure it’s a realistic budget. Unrealistic budget does more harm than good. To prevent this from happening track your spending. Personally, I keep a separate holiday fund in a dedicated account. This makes it easier for me to separate holiday spending and daily household expenses. I also implement the power of 60.  Downloading my bank’s app allows me to take 60 seconds out of my day to check my account balance and track my spending. Bonus tip: If you need to leave your credit cards at home to help avoid impulse buying, then just do it or freeze it.

Research and Save. Take a few minutes online to search the web for discount codes. If you strapped for time check out my two favorite money saving promo code site, Honey and RetaiMeNot. Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click. RetailMeNot allows you to have access to discounts with coupon and promo codes for thousands of online stores.

Save Receipts. Personally, I create a zip log bag and label it holiday receipts with the year. With two children under the age of 10, the golden rule is: No play, repay. If the item is not played with for a specific time frame about a week it goes back to the store for me to receive a repay (refund). Having receipts also enables you to have more flexibility. Despite the long grace period, many retailers return policies varies. And since I probably won’t remember each retailers return policy, I just hold the receipts hostage.


Source: Natasha Campbell

Natasha Campbell
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About the Author

- NATASHA M. CAMPBELL is a passionate certified educator specializing in curriculum and development, personal finance coach, licensed real estate agent and founder of Lifestyle Success Unlimited, a financial education company. Natasha holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and has earned a Bachelor's degree specializing in Finance and Real Estate. Natasha is the voice for transformational change in the area of wealth. Natasha's intention is to get you “launched, jump started" or “unstuck” to clear out any resistance, obstacles, or limitations that are standing in the way of you reaching your success. Natasha's journey as a financial educator has appeared in several media outlets including U.S. News, Yahoo Finance, Daily Finance, Go Banking Rates, and more.

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Did you know?

African Americans are significantly more likely to have some type of debt (94%) compared with the general population (82%). Credit card debt, student loan debt, and personal loans are all significantly higher in the African American community.

Source: Prudential’s 2013 "African American Financial Experience" study