Updated: Monday, 03 Dec 2012, 3:43 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012, 8:00 AM EST
Grand Rapids, Mich (WOTV) - You can enjoy the holidays without putting yourself in poor financial shape. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time and money:
1. Decide how much you can spend. Set a spending budget first and then decide what and who you can buy for. We tend to overlook the little extras when we first create a budget. Include everything from postage for cards to holiday party favors and home decorations to the cost of boarding a pet if you're traveling.
2. Make a list and check it twice. Once you have your budget set, then determine how much you can spend on each person. Don’t be afraid to shorten the list or amount to spend per person. You may have to force yourself to be a little more creative on ideas, but that can be part of the fun (and include others into the plan). For big families, consider having everyone draw names to lessen the impact of buying for too many.
3. When possible, pay cash. The best possible way to do this is by being prepared. Most credit unions offer a holiday club account that you can save easily each payday with a small deposit that adds up and is ready for you to use at the holidays. If needed, use credit cards responsibly. Ideally, you'll want to pay everything off immediately. Have a choice of cards? Always use the card that offers the lowest interest rate. Remember to track everything you spend and stick to your budget.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute. Look for sales well ahead of time if possible, and even buy “off season” for that special gift they’ll love next Summer or Fall.
5. Don't overlook the value of intangibles. Do you want to give someone a gift but don't have the money? Consider making a special meal or treat. Even the ingredients and copy of your own special recipe would be a very thoughtful gift!
6. Send e-cards. They're free, don't require postage and no one has to wash their hands after opening them. Some even play music, making them a fun, free way to catch up with far-flung friends and family.
7. Set realistic limits for your kids. Set some financial boundaries, and give them some fun choices to help consider – having an understanding that holiday spending is not a free-for-all is important step in helping kids be financially fit themselves as adults and future parents.
For more financial information check out First Community Federal Credit Union's Website.
* All articles provided are for information only and are not to be construed as legal advice.
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