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Holiday Spending: Don't Let it Wipe You Out |

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Holiday Spending: Don't Let it Wipe You Out

Holiday Spending: Don't Let It Wipe You Out The Holiday season means entertaining guests, big meals, decorating and of course, gift buying. Stores definitely play their part offering deals and discounts to attract everyone to their stores; all to get you to spend money. Despite the urge plan ahead and stick to a budget so you are not still paying for this Christmas next Christmas. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

1.) Tread carefully with the plastic: If you choose to use credit cards this season, be sure you choose your cards wisely. Several credit card issuers are rolling out some pretty generous perks and incentives. Be careful though, it is more difficult to keep track of what you spend and having a line of credit will only intensify your urge to buy. The worst part: the interest you will be paying on that purchase long after that present is unwrapped, used and pushed to the back of the closet.

2.) Budget: Many online web sites offer tools such as spending worksheets and calculator to estimate what you can afford to spend based on your income. Once you have determined that number stick to it. Create a list of each person you need a gift for and include an amount to spend for them. Stick to that list and mark through each person as you finish shopping for them.

3.) Shop around: Sales will be everywhere, so shopping around for the best deal on an item makes sense and can save a lot of money. Compare prices online and don't forget to shop the clearance and discount racks.

4.) Use coupons and discounts: Major retailers like Macy's and Toys R US offer sales books with coupons and special shopping hours and days with extra discounts and more. Often company websites offer coupons and higher sales discounts for shopping online. Target these websites and stores for most of your shopping needs.

5.) Lay-Away Yes lay-away! It is back and may actually be a useful tool in controlling spending during the holidays. If you are eyeing a big ticket item, a flat screen tv for instance, check the stores lay-away plan. These plans can give you time to research the best product and also pay over time and budget in that expense.

6.) Travel smart Travel to Grandma's house during the holidays can be a major budget buster. Try to plan as far in advance as possible for travel needs during the holidays. Shop travel websites like hotels.com or hotwire.com and be as flexible as possible on travel days and times. These sites can save hundreds of dollars on your total travel package. Stick to these tips and you will be able to focus more on the spirit of the holiday rather the cost of it. Jennifer Streaks, Finance expert Continue the conversation by following me on twitter.com @jstreaks.

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