Holiday Spending Budgeting Tips
Bills.com offers 5 tips to salvage holiday budgets
SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 6, 2006 - Over the weekend following Thanksgiving, consumers spent about $14.7 billion in nationwide retail outlets, a 3.4 percent increase over spending a year ago. But now that frantic deal-searching is over, according to Bills.com co-CEO Brad Stroh, holiday shoppers have a chance to refocus their gift-buying plan -- and salvage their budget if they're on the brink of overspending. "To avoid overspending at the holidays, a budget is crucial," Stroh said. "Sticking to that budget, and your intended gift list, can require more willpower than losing 10 pounds. But with a few pointers, you can keep your spending in check." His suggestions included:
- Give what YOU can afford. "Do not give a gift equal to what your sister-in-law gave you last year, enough presents to make a ski-slope-sized pile under the tree, or whatever unrealistic measure might be luring you toward overspending," Stroh cautioned. "Give reasonably, with a generous smile."
- Don't spend more than can be paid off in a month or two. "If you can't pay off the bills until June -- well, by then the toys will be broken and half the perfume used," said Stroh. He suggests an incentive for restraint: "Visualize yourself writing checks for months to come."
- Take inventory first. Scour closets, under the bed or anywhere early purchases might be stashed and forgotten. "Check to see if you stocked up at last year's post-holiday sales before rushing out to buy now."
- Embrace the inner procrastinator. Late shoppers should not buy more to make up for lack of planning. "Take a deep breath and remember a gift is a gift, no matter how late it was purchased," advised Stroh.
- If all else fails, give a gift card. Gift cards are useful for almost any store, they fit within a specific budget, and they help givers stop with just one gift per recipient.
"Nothing is more important than protecting your financial well-being," Stroh added. "If you safeguard your budget, you'll sail through the holidays with a clear conscience -- and feel plenty of joy, now and in the New Year." Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and save money by choosing the best-value products and services. Since 2002, Bills.com’s partner company, Freedom Financial Network, has provided consumer debt resolution services, serving more than 10,000 customers nationwide and managing more than $350 million in consumer debt. The company’s co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, have been named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.