Yes, it's true...the Holidays are just around the corner!

Let's take some time before the Holidays to focus on getting our finances in order. Even if you haven't been planning all year, you can still keep spending under control!

Ideally, we would all be putting aside a set amount of money each month to have available for the extra expense that occurs when the Holidays come around. Realistically, most of us probably haven't been doing that. So how can we keep from going into debt through our celebrations?

Here are a few simple solutions...

Tip #1: Set Up a Budget

If you're not already running your household on a budget, now is a good time to start. It's the first step in being able to put money aside for things that you know are coming up, such as the Holidays. It will help you keep your spending in check throughout the year, as well.

Tip #2: Clear Out the Clutter

Clearing out the clutter has two advantages. (a) You'll have more room for the new things that will be brought into the house, and (b) you can sell the items you are getting rid of to gain money to buy new things, instead of going into debt.

Tip #3: Put a Limit on Your Spending

Come up with a realistic total amount that you can spend for the Holidays this year. Then get a stack of envelopes and label them for each category or person (i.e. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, decorations, Joe, Susie, Mom & Dad, etc.). Divide your total amount into the amount you want to spend for each category or person, and write that amount on the outside of the respective envelope. Make sure the total of all the envelopes is not more than the total amount you plan to spend!

As you bring in money, start filling the envelopes with cash. Prioritize: make sure your kids envelopes are filled before the office gifts envelope is filled.

When the spending begins, only spend the amount that is in each envelope for the purpose intended (no stealing from other envelopes!). This process will make certain that you don't go over your budget!

Tip #4: Be a Smart Shopper

Shop around! Don't just buy the first thing you can usually find a bargain if you will shop around. Look on the Internet and shop your local stores. Check the sale papers or even the classifieds (especially if you're looking for larger items).

Wait for the sales! Most stores do a huge sale the day after Thanksgiving. If you can be patient and fight the crowds, you can really get some good deals.

Bonus Tip

Do Something Good as a Family... Together with your family, decide on something good you would all like to do this Holiday season for someone else. It could be that each member gives up a portion of their gift money to adopt an angel (don't forget to make an envelope!) or donating your time together as a family to a worthy cause, such as volunteering at a nursing home or homeless shelter. In giving of yourselves, you will be not only helping someone in need, but also giving your children the gift of wonderful values and lasting memories.

We hope this issue of The Calm Mom has inspired you and will help bring calm to the chaos the Holidays can sometimes bring.

Let me be the first to wish you Happy Holidays!


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