Prepare Your Finances for the Holidays
Prepare your credit cards, budget and bank account for the holiday shopping season.
If you're concerned about your gift, travel and food budget during the holidays, try to cut spending in other areas of your life. Tamp down on meals out, movie theater visits and non-gift-related shopping sprees.
Get to work.
A seasonal job can help you make ends meet and pad your budget for the holidays. Consider retail gigs, which typically are available during the holiday rush. Or opt to babysit, work for a rideshare company, shovel sidewalks or even pet sit for neighbors on vacation.
Cash in on rewards.
If you've got cash rewards sitting dormant in your credit card account, now's the time to cash them in. You'll be able to spend more without going beyond your budget or running up against your credit limit.
Consider your credit score.
Before hitting your credit limit during a holiday shopping binge, consider the damage you might do your credit score. Opt for homemade and frugal gifts to stay within budget – and avoid damaging your financial health.
Sell your stuff.
If you're trying to pad your budget for holiday expenses, consider selling unwanted items for some extra cash. Sell gently worn clothing, electronics and unused gift cards online and in secondhand shops.
If you want to know about the latest sales – and potentially get early access – sign up for sales emails from your favorite stores. Consider using a separate "shopping email" account for these sales newsletters to avoid temptation in your daily life, writes U.S. News My Money blogger Trent Hamm.
Mark shopping days on your calendar.
Black Friday, on No. 25, and Cyber Monday, on Nov. 28, are two holiday shopping biggies. But don't forget Free Shipping Day on Dec. 16 or Green Monday, the third largest shopping day, which falls on the second Monday in December.
Make a budget.
It's tempting to close your eyes, whip out your credit card and start praying that you don't overspend during the holidays. Create a holiday budget to ensure you don't overdo it on your holiday spending.
No law says that each family member needs to receive a new iPhone for Christmas. If money is tight this year, approach the holiday with a frugal mindset and let family members know that you'll be scaling back. Consider a grab-bag gift exchange with adult family members or skipping gifts for adults altogether.
Start getting crafty.
Thoughtful homemade gifts are a great, frugal way to get in the giving spirit without busting your budget. Be ready to start as soon as possible if you're working on a long-term craft, such as knitting a blanket or making a quilt.
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