With the holidays around the corner it’s time to start getting our act ready for some festive shopping. Below are a collection of shopping tips so we can all enjoy a happy, sensible, and responsible holiday season.

  1. Make a Shopping List – Write down everyone that you plan to buy a gift for and how much you plan to spend.  It’s not just to save money, it’s so you don’t miss anyone too.
  2. Be Patient and Look for Deals – The bad economy means that all retailers are marking down their merchandise in a huge way.  Shop around at different stores and chances are you will find what you are looking for at a lower price.
  3. Plan Ahead – Make sure you call the store to see if the item you want to buy is in stock.  Otherwise, you would’ve wasted your time and gas.
  4. Organize Your Trip – Group your gift list into different categories and plan your route.  Trust me, it will save you so much time.
  5. Buy Online – If you still haven’t bought anything online before, you are missing out because online retailers like Amazon often give huge discounts.  Remember to also calculate shipping into the total price before committing (better yet, find one that offers free shipping).
  6. Don’t Buy More than You Need – Never fall for those offers that seem like a bargain but need you to buy additional products.  If you need only one, never go for the “buy one get one free” offers.
  7. Clip Coupons – Go out of your way to find coupons.  It might be a hassle but it is time well spent.
  8. Find Alternatives – When a similar product goes on sale, try to see if the savings is worth the trade off.  Sometimes, the product on sale might be selling for less and be even better than the one you were going to get.
  9. Gift Receipts – Always ask for one just in case.holiday shopping tips
  10. Get the Items Shipped ASAP – It’s the holiday season so shipping may take longer than usual.  Remember to get everything shipped to you in ample time or you might not have a gift to give during Christmas.
  11. Beware of Your Belongings – Holiday shopping usually means long lineups and crowded malls.  Watch your belongings and be careful.
  12. Try Using Only Cash – If you know that you are those people that can’t control yourself, use cash.  Having a limited supply of funds will surely help tone down the spending.
  13. Credit Cards Might Be Good Also – If you use your credit card, find one that has the best reward program for retail goods.
  14. Reward Points – Remember your reward points?  Maybe you can use some of it to get some gift cards this year to buy gifts.
  15. An Activity Could Be Worth Even More – Gifts are not just tied to an item.  It could be a favor, an event or an experience so use your imagination.
  16. Taking the Experience a Step Further – Perhaps it makes more sense for you and your friend to go out on a dinner or trip together instead of buying each other a gift.  It could be more fun and more financially sensible at the same time.
  17. Don’t Buy Extended Warranty – Instead, buy the product with a credit card that offers double the warranty period.
  18. Avoid Credit Card Advances – Always.
  19. No Store Credit Cards – In fact, don’t apply for any new credit card during the holiday season.
  20. No Interest Till 2020 – Don’t fall for this unless you already have the means to pay it off and you will pay it off immediately.
  21. It’s Not a Competition – There’s no need to try getting the biggest or most expensive gift.  Try something sensible and personal.  The best gifts are ones that come from the heart.
  22. Online Deal Sites – There are tons of sites that gathers all the great bargains available.  Check them out to save time and money. (One I’ve been using for years on electronic products is Ben’s Bargains.
  23. Online Promo Code – Most online merchants have coupons and promotion codes all the time.  Before buying anything online, always Google to see if that particular merchant has a coupon code available.
  24. Ask for a Discount – Cashiers often times have the coupons right in front of them to save time.  Always be friendly and ask if there are current coupons that apply to your purchase at checkout.  It won’t always work but it’s so easy that it’s worth a try.
  25. Find a Shopping Buddy – True shoppers will look in every aisle and find amazing deals.  If you are one of them, you can save so much time and cover more territory by teaming up.
  26. Have a Secret Santa Amongst Your Group – Instead of everyone buying a gift for everyone else, play the Secret Santa game and cut down on the number of gifts everyone needs to get.
  27. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag – Why be environmentally unfriendly?  Bring your own bag and ask the cashier to save some plastic.
  28. Avoid Crowds – Shop during early and late store hours.  You will thank me after 🙂
  29. Free Gift Wrapping – If the store offers this, remember to take advantage of it.
  30. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute – Chances are you will be in a rush and all the budgeting tips will be forgotten.
  31. Remember Yourself – It could be small but remember that you deserve a gift as well.
  32. Use Common Sense – If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Use your judgment and remember to enjoy the holidays.

impulsive holiday shopping

Christmas. The very word invokes outright fear in many impulsive shoppers. If you’re prone to smoking the credit cards or breaking the budget during the last few weeks of December, knowing a few tips on how to curb those urges can help you get through to the New Year with your dignity and your wallet intact.

Tips for Avoiding Impulsive Christmas Spending [ continue reading… ]

wedding invitations

Encouraged by my dear husband’s post on How to Save Money on Weddings last week, I’m going to dive deeper into wedding invitations and in particular, whether you should buy or create your own.  For many of us budget folks, this is one of the easiest ways to save some money but obviously, we need to decide whether we have the time and skill to create a wedding invitation.  In addition, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you or your fiancée a creative person?
  • Do you (and your fiancée) usually enjoy hand crafting?
  • Could your siblings or close friends help?
  • Do you have a good sense of design, especially creating something from scratch?
  • Do you have a tight budget on wedding invitations?

If most of your answers to the questions listed above are “yes”, you are a good candidate to create your own wedding invitations, and in the process save about 30% to 40% than ordering from stores.
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spending styles

We hear a lot about different money styles. Some of the more common personal finance dichotomies that we are used to reading about include:

  • Spending vs. Saving
  • Denial vs. Indulging
  • Impulse Buying vs. Planning Purchases

While all of these financial styles illustrate different characteristics about how we spend our money, I always thought it interesting that few people address spending styles in terms of what we like to spend money on. We talk a lot about whether we should or shouldn’t spend, but not much about the type of spending.

This oversight occurred to me a few years ago when my husband told me that it was a “waste” to spend money on short trips to a neighboring state, at which point I fired back that I thought it was a “waste” to buy a television that we didn’t need—especially when our current TV worked just fine and was certainly adequate.

[ continue reading… ]

how to make six figures
We often think of a six-figure income to be the answer to all our problems. After all, if you make at least $100k a year, you must be doing something right — and have plenty of money.

The reality, though, is that there are plenty of people making six figures and struggling to make ends meet.

While there’s no one reason that this happens, here are three reasons why expenses can get a little out of control with your budget, even if you are considered “rich” in the eyes of others:

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what to pay teenagers
My husband and I started giving our children, ages 8 and 10, a monthly allowance a couple of years ago. Now that I see how valuable having their own money is, how helpful it is in teaching them important lessons and concepts in personal finance, I regret not starting sooner!

Here are my top reasons for giving my children a monthly allowance.
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