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  • Archive for the ‘Holiday Spending’ Category

    WISER Ways to Save for the Holidays

    Thursday, December 12th, 2013

    SnowmanThe holidays bring a lot of extra spending. Everyone wants to partake in the festivities, whether it is gift giving or holiday parties. But just because you want to spoil your friends and family, does not mean your holidays should leave your bank account dry. Here are some tips on how to enjoy the holiday season, without breaking your piggy bank.

    1.   Budget, budget, budget

    Budgets are not fun to think about, and really who wants to sit there and micro-organize her money when she could be out enjoying a holiday party or snuggling up with a good book and hot chocolate? Despite that, creating a budget will help you make it through the holiday season. You need to start by understanding your overall budget. Use WISER’s budget worksheet to help you with this step. Once you know your monthly and annual budgets, you can make decisions on how much you can afford to spend this holiday season. How much extra money do you have this month? Can you make up for it in January? Set an overall holiday budget which includes gift purchases, travel funds, and items for holiday parties, all without dipping into your retirement savings!

    Next, make a list of everyone you plan to buy gifts for. Based on your budget for the ENTIRE holiday season, decide on how much you can spend for each person. Do not over spend just because a person is particularly important. Holidays are not about the amount of money you spend, but the love expressed in the thoughts behind your gifts. As you start buying gifts, you can readjust the budgets for each person as you find deals on items. We recommend that you also pay with cash. If you only bring the amount of cash budgeted for the gift, you cannot outspend! For help on keeping track of your spending, check out WISER’s “Keep Track of Your Spending” Fact Sheet.

    2.   Use technology to help you find the best deals!

    Instead of spending time to go in store to find a gift, consider buying items online where you can easily compare prices across stores. Buying online will also save you money on gas because you do not have to drive there and the circle the parking lot for 20 minutes hoping to find a spot. Many retailers also offer free shipping during the holidays.  Still love the experience of browsing in a store? Then try downloading an app like GasBuddy to help find the cheapest gas near you.

    You can also save on postage, printing, and cards by sending e-cards instead of traditional mail. There are tons of free, cute holiday e-cards to which you can add your own personal message! Smilebox even has options for you to upload your own photos, so you can still send that family portrait, as a free e-card.

    3.   It’s time to embrace DIY projects.

    We’re not all crafty and creative so it can be difficult to find ways to create your own gifts and decorations, but it can help you save a lot of money. Think of a particular skill of yours and find ways to employ it in making gifts. If you love baking, give someone cookies instead of a store bought present. If you have a lot of great pictures, make someone a photo album. Coupons for activities with the person later are a great gift and easy way to save money because you have time to save for the activity! Want more tips for

    Holiday DIY

    gifting? Check out this article.

    Decorating can also take a lot of money. Lights a beautiful, but take a fair amount of energy, and thus money. Scale your displays back to save on electricity costs. Consider ditching the live Christmas tree. Buying one each year adds up. Instead, invest in a fake tree that you do not have to replace for a long time. Here is a tip for keeping that great evergreen smell: Christmas tree vendors will give you branches they trim from their trees for free! You can put these in vase and have the tree smell, without the tree cost. Click on the image to the right for more DIY decorative projects!

    4.   Prepare for next year!

    Treat your holiday budget like your retirement. You should add a little money each month so that the gift buying next year is easier. $20 a month equates to $240 to spend for the holiday! How much easier would your budgeting be then? Also, think about buying gifts throughout the year. If some item goes on sale, you could save more money by buying it in March and keeping it rather than waiting to buy everything all in one month.

    Want more tips on how to save this season? Check out this article.

    Happy holidays and happy saving!

    Money-Minded Gifts: Finance Books

    Thursday, December 4th, 2008

    Holiday gift shopping may be hurting more than your checking account this winter. A new study shows that Christmas shopping increases blood pressure to dangerous levels in 50% of holiday shoppers. When researchers tested men and women after having them buy gifts, women were three times more stressed than they had been before shopping.

    It’s hard enough to try to find the perfect gift, and braving crowds and cold weather can make shopping feel especially stressful. When you combine these factors with a tighter budget, it’s no wonder that shoppers’ heart rates increase by 10% while shopping during the holiday season . But if you’re feeling financial pressure, chances are the people you’re shopping for are experiencing similar money-related stress. So why not channel your shopping anxiety into a helpful, money-minded gift? This week, we’re taking a look at finance books. In 2008, 52% of consumers’ New Years resolutions were related to getting out of debt. Help your friends and family get a jump start on improving their financial situations by giving them a personal finance book this holiday season.
    Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Yours 20s and 30s by Beth Kobliner:
    This book is a smart choice for any person who is new to managing her finances or who is interested in managing her finances in a more responsible way. Get a Financial Life is exceptionally thorough but never dull or overwhelming. For the most time-strapped readers, Kobliner offers a “Financial Cramming section” at the end of each chapter to summarize the chapter’s most important ideas.

    The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life by Lee Eisenberg
    The number is a less a retirement guide than a reflection on issues facing the aging population. Eisenberg is a journalist, not a financial planner, but his experience writing on the topic is evident. According to Eisenberg, everyone should be thinking about his or her “Number,” which is the amount of money required to meet an individual’s expectations for life in retirement.
    Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People
    by Jane Bryant Quinn
    Jane Bryant Quinn is informative and charming in this book. She covers all the bases, but perhaps the most helpful chapter is “Putting Your Whole Financial Life on Cruise Control”– the idea being that money saved automatically is less likely to be spent frivolously. Shifting to automatic saving can save you both time and money. Quinn’s personal stories of struggling with debt make this both an enjoyable and worthwhile read.
    Next Week’s Money-Minded Gift: Online Savings Accounts (coming Thursday)

    Savings Tools

    Monday, December 1st, 2008

    Need a little help putting money aside this holiday season? Try one of these handy online tools and create a savings plan that works for you.

    CNN Money Savings Calculator: This tool calculates your savings by having you answer a brief series of questions about your taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts and projected rate of return/time frame. Quick and simple, this calculator offers you an estimate on how much you will save as well as a variety of other retirement savings related tools.

    Mint: Mint.com touts itself as “the best free way to manage your money.” Wall Street Journal seems to agree with this assessment, calling Mint “a pleasure to use.” Mint offers you tools to help save for retirement, pay off your debt, and save for long term goals. By entering your information, this personal finance software automatically downloads and categorizes your credit card transactions nightly to help you identify your spending trends.

    Choose To Save calculators: EBRI’s Choose to Save campaign has a page chock full of calculators to help you save, as well as tools to assist you with your employee benefits, insurance, Roth IRAs and more. They also recommend their favorite savings calculators from other sites such as Motley Fool and FINRA.

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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