The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
Heraldnet.com

The top local business stories in your email

Contact Us:

Josh O'Connor
Publisher
Phone: 425-339-3007
joconnor@heraldnet.com

Maureen Bozlinski
General Sales Manager
Phone: 425-339-3445
Fax: 425-339-3049
mbozlinksi@heraldnet.com

Jim Davis
Editor
Phone: 425-339-3097
jdavis@heraldnet.com

Site address:
1800 41st Street, S-300,
Everett, WA 98203

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 930
Everett, WA 98206

HBJ RSS feeds

How to not bust your holiday budget

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Kara McGuire
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Published:
Yes, it's only October, and I'm as disturbed as you to see Santa Claus next to the Halloween candy on store shelves (lay off the Reese's Pieces, St. Nick). But the holiday season is just two months away. I'm sorry to bring it up, but it's time to figure out your holiday gift-giving and merriment budget.
Initial holiday shopping surveys indicate that consumers are buying earlier, planning ahead, and may be better prepared this season to shop within budget than in year's past. "Consumers are planning, creating lists and collecting coupons," said James Russo, vice president, global consumer insights at Nielsen. Yet one in three respondents reported that they have "no spare cash" going into the holiday season.
Fall into that category? Consider the following strategies for spreading holiday cheer without accumulating debt:
With two months to go, examine your budget for a place or two to trim. Cancel that gym membership you never use, or go on a restaurant-free diet for a month. Come up with a (legal) moneymaking scheme or two. Maybe your junk is on someone else's holiday wish list. Consider Craigslist, or use Facebook to tell your friends about items for sale. Sell your babysitting or tech support services.
Determine how much money you can afford to save between now and December, and track your progress online with a tool like www.mint.com, which has a holiday spending goal feature.
If you worry about whittling away your newfound cash unless you sequester it from your checking account, open an online savings account. Smartypig.com is a great choice, since you are rewarded with cash back when you trade your savings for a participating retailer's gift card.
Struggling to come up with cash? Maybe you have another currency lying around. I'm talking the frequent flier miles, credit card points, and other loyalty rewards that consumers mindlessly accumulate and often forget to use. Each household belongs to an average of 14.1 loyalty programs, according to 2010 research from Colloquy, a Cincinnati-based loyalty marketing firm. Many of these programs have online malls where you can redeem points for merchandise, gift cards, and magazine subscriptions.
Maybe you're sitting on a gift card from last year. Unused gift cards with a thoughtful note are my favorite re-gifts, a practice that I think is acceptable if done properly, especially in this economy. Make sure the gift card isn't so old that it's expired, the balance hasn't been nicked by fees and the store hasn't gone out of business.
For consumers who have spent one January too many regretting their holiday debt, there's layaway. Wal-Mart is bringing back the old-fashioned payment plan service in mid-October, responding to demand from consumers who are shut out or shying away from credit cards.
Layaway programs typically require a down payment and charge a small service fee for the convenience of setting aside goods for you. Toys 'R' Us, Kmart and Sears are a few of the retailers that offer layaway. Best Buy offers layaway at some stores.
Money is tight and you've exhausted your options? Here's my philosophy: If you are close enough to someone to give them a gift, you should be able to have a candid conversation about your financial situation. Come up with another meaningful way to celebrate the season without spending money you don't have.
Story tags » Halloween

MORE HBJ HEADLINES

CALENDAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus

Market roundup