ICFE eNEWS #08-24 - December 3rd 2008
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21 Tips for Wiser Christmas Holiday Spending

San Diego, CA -  "The 2008 holiday season is upon us and this could lead to credit card buying, both for household basics and holiday gifts. Advertising encouraging consumers to engage in credit-based spending for the gifts and holiday travel will, no doubt, be very seductive, especially as retailers seek to bolster consumer purchases which have been lackluster since September.

How do consumers develop resistance to such sales appeals? Develop some financial self-discipline," advises the Institute of Consumer Financial Education, (ICFE) a San Diego based, award winning nonprofit group helping people of all ages become better spenders, regular savers and more careful use of credit.

Human emotions are heightened and therefore it seems to be especially hard for some people not to take on debt during the holidays because of the need to express love, appreciation, and friendship.

Developing better spending methods and techniques is one way people can help eliminate overspending and keep from getting all charged-up with plastic this holiday season.

Following is a list of useful spending tips and ideas for holiday shoppers which can help people spend less overall and perhaps even eliminate the need for any credit-based spending at all.

  1. Create a written plan for holiday spending and gift giving. Include possible gifts, dollar amounts and alternative choices.
  2. Establish spending limits for gifts for each person on your list and start looking for bargains early.
  3. If it has been a challenging year financially, then shrink your holiday gift list. Begin by talking with those you exchange gifts with and perhaps suggesting not exchanging gifts or mutually observing much lower dollar-limits on gifts.
  4. Separate shopping trips (when going to compare prices, quality, value, etc.) from spending trips (when going to make a purchase), and resist taking cash, credit cards or a checkbook on the shopping trips.
  5. Wait for those sales! Ever increasing food and energy costs could bite into holiday sales, so sales and clearances might come earlier than usual in 2008.
  6. Watch the sale flyers in the mailbox for items you intend to purchase.
  7. Ask retailers when the items you are interested in buying are coming on sale. Most retailers will reveal sale dates because they don't want you to shop their competition.
  8. Sometimes shopping later in the season (for smaller gifts wrapping and accessories, etc.) will allow you to take advantage of clearance sales. It will often yield lower prices overall. If holiday sales are sluggish, discounts and clearance sales will appear earlier this season.
  9. Liquidators, buying clubs and factory outlet stores usually offer lower prices.
  10. Bulk buying with other family members or friends can also yield savings.
  11. Spend cash and avoid using credit cards. Charge cards tend to promote indiscriminate spending. Credit card users often say they had no idea how much they spent on the holidays until the credit card bills arrive in January or February of the next year.
  12. WARNING, credit cards have a message: SPEND!
  13. Sometimes writing checks or using EFT/ATMs can get out of hand especially when you fail to record each check or calculate the balance after making an EFT purchase or write a check. It often results in overspending, playing the cash float game and NSF check charges.
  14. Giving gifts to adults on New Year's Day is also very special. Then you can really take advantage of all those after Christmas sales.
  15. Consider gifts that don't cost a lot of out-of-pocket money. Giving a card to a young family which entitles them to emergency baby-sitting time, for example, will result in savings for both families. Laundry or shirt-ironing for a bachelor, a bimonthly sight-seeing outing for senior citizens or gardening, housecleaning and car washes for grandparents are useful and often much needed gifts.
  16. If considering a part-time job over the holidays, perhaps working for a department store or other major retailer because you could then economize with an employee discount in addition to getting notices about upcoming sales.
  17. At office parties and other holiday functions where you might be asked to provide a gift, suggest that instead of gifts, people bring canned food for the home less or disadvantaged families and individuals.
  18. Save more on holiday greeting cards and postage by sending only to those in your life you won't see over the holiday.
  19. Make more of your gifts at home. A freshly baked loaf of bread, cookies, desserts, etc. are always appreciated. Also art, crafts, needle work or a collage of photographs.
  20. Instead of giving money younger children, give them some U. S. Savings bonds. They cost one half of the face value, will not be immediately spent, they encourage savings, and because they are interest bearing and tax free until redemption, the gift keeps on giving.
  21. Gift wrapping and incidentals can become costly. It is easy to economize; give a card with a photo of the gift and the unwrapped gift, use newspapers, magazines, grocery and shopping bags as gift wrap or reusable gift boxes etc.

It is also very easy to overspend on household and grocery items, especially during the holidays. The ICFE has available online, "How to Spend Smarter for Household and Grocery Items" and the popular "ICFE Spender's Profile."

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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