Have a Money-savvy Holiday Season

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We recently posted some suggestions for getting a grip on your holiday spending. Since it’s still October, we thought we’d add a few more ideas to that list.

What’s in your wallet?
One of the easiest ways to overspend during the holidays (well, really, any time) is to pay with a credit card. That piece of plastic makes it easy to ignore or forget how much you’re really spending; as soon as you’ve spent it, the total goes into a black hole called “Later.” Many personal financial advisors suggest paying with cash. When your wallet is empty, you’re done spending. You still need a budget and a plan for how much you’re going to spend on each item, but the temptation to exceed the limit is not nearly as strong.

Add yourself to your holiday gift list.
Think what a gift it would be to get rid of a long-term debt, such as a school or car loan, to pay off a credit card, or to repay a personal loan. Always check the terms of the loan, but if you can pay it off without penalties, set aside a chunk of your holiday budget and make that gift one you give yourself. Paying early will save you the cost of interest and it will give you one less thing to worry about.

Compare prices and value.
If you resist doing all of your shopping at the last minute, you’ll have time to look for better values. Look online for price comparison tools and apps that let you know when items go on sale.

Postpone your spending.
Many sellers slash prices after the holidays. Putting off a major purchase – electronics, appliances, travel, etc. – until after the first of the year could save you a bundle. Give the person a small gift along with a handmade gift certificate that promises their gift will arrive early in the new year.

Resist the impulse.
One of the easiest places to go overboard on holiday spending is impulse buying. Whether it’s clothing, antiques, electronics, gourmet foods, or other luxury items that seem irresistible in the moment, decide ahead of time that you will wait at least 24 hours before you make the purchase. Often, once the treasure it out of sight, it quickly loses some of its appeal, and your budget-savvy wisdom can take over.

Start saving for next year.
Holiday spending shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you divide this year’s holiday budget by 12, that will give you a quick idea of how much you need to set aside each month to be ready for next year’s holiday season. Be sure to add a little to the total to allow for increasing costs.

Give from the heart.
One of the most meaningful gifts you can give is one that benefits someone else. Whether that means donating money to a charity in someone else’s name, volunteering your time in your community (perhaps with family or friends), or turning the holidays into an opportunity to visit those who are homebound, you will help restore the true meaning of giving.

Whatever your plans for the holidays, please be assured that your Sente Mortgage neighbors will be here to assist you with your financial needs. Have a wonderful season, and give us a call!

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