How to Spend Less While Giving More



Utilize these helpful tips to rein in your seasonal spending and keep your budget on track:

  • Transform Attic Treasures Into Treasures of Love: The best things in life are often free. If you can't afford to spend money this year, why not bequeath a family heirloom to someone on your gift list? Wrap it with love, pen a heartfelt note about what it meant to you, and give it with good cheer.

  • Save Money With Gift Cards: You can actually make money and receive other benefits when you purchase gift cards — if you know where to go, of course. Are you a member of a warehouse club? That $100 iTunes gift card for your grandson is only $94.47 through Sam's Club. Not a warehouse club member? Simply buy your gift cards from a retailer that offers some incentive. Kroger, for example, will allow you to earn fuel points from your gift card purchases.

  • Ignore Store Credit Card Offers: A 10-to-15 percent discount on your holiday purchases can certainly sound tempting, but remember: each application you submit dings your credit score. It's important to keep your credit card balances below half their limit (preferably 30% of their limit) to keep your credit score intact as you make your holiday purchases.

  • Monitor Your Statements Closely: "You may be worried about identity theft, but your bank may be more of a threat around the holidays," says consumer expert Clark Howard. It's because the holidays are the time when families get busy and are less likely to be vigilant about checking their statements, making it easy for banks to swoop in, tack on hidden fees, and start changing terms and conditions. If you spot these hidden fees on your bank statements, call and negotiate. If your bank won't budge, it might be time to start shopping around for a new one.

  • Get a Jump on Next Christmas: Buy holiday decorations, wrapping paper, holiday cards, and other items at heavily slashed prices — sometimes up to 90 percent off — when you shop after December 25.

  • Make Your Exchanges Quickly: Return that "interesting" gift you can't use within a few days after Christmas. If you wait too long, the item may be marked down in a post-holiday sale. Unless you have the receipt on hand, you'll only be refunded the discounted price.

  • Shop Year Round: Want to know a really great way to keep your holiday spending under budget? Shop for gifts all year round. You'll be more likely to catch great items on sale, and you'll be able to spread the expense out over 12 months instead of just a few weeks. Plus, you'll also have more time to find unusual and meaningful gifts for those you love. And isn't that what the holidays are all about, anyway?


For even more tips on how to maintain your budget through the holidays, check out What Every Senior Should Know.



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  • FC&A Staff Writer