Well, we're well into November now, and we are already seeing the retailers advertising for Christmas even though black Friday has not happened yet. I even have heard some radio some stations have switched over to Christmas music all the time. Christmas lights have been hung (some people even turn them on at night), Wal-mart is open till midnight, and the other stores are following along with extended hours starting this week.
All of this means that almost everyone is going to be spending extra in the upcoming month getting ready for Christmas. Travel, meals, parties, and of course gifts are among the expenses that will be higher at this time of year. How will you be paying for these items for your family? Some people will unfortunately be putting much of the cost onto their credit card(s) and hoping that they can make the minimum payments in the New Year. Hopefully you have seen this day coming – it is December 25th every year after all – and have saved over the past year in anticipation.
No matter what your Christmas 2010 budget is, there are many ways to make your yuletide dollar stretch a bit further. It's a bit of a cliché, but it's still true that it's the thought that counts. A handmade craft is often a gift that's remembered and cherished far longer than a store-bought item. This is especially true for children giving gifts to older relatives. Make use of such online sites as craigslist.com, where you can buy quality, gently used items for anyone on your list. My wife and I bought a gently used outdoor play set for our kids last Christmas for over 75% off the price we would have paid if it was brand new! It's also a great place to buy vintage items that wouldn't even be available in a store. Children in particular don't care if the toy comes in a box or not. Don't forget about stores like Ollie's Bargain Outlet. Brand name items can be found there at significant discounts.
Above all, it is important to be in control of your spending. Knowing how much you have to spend and staying within that limit is key. A cash envelope can be very helpful for this. Remember, even if every other Christmas you've known involved credit, 2010 can be the year you break the cycle and commit to doing it debt-free!