Pete The Planner’s Holiday Spending Guide

The Holiday’s are upon us. Consider these easy tips to make your holiday spending go a little smoother.

12 or More Fixed Monthly Expenses Each Month. That’s how many the average American has.  Don’t get sucked into buying more than you can afford this holiday season by adding another fixed monthly expense to your budget.  If you can’t pay for it now or pay it off right away, you can’t afford it.

11 Household Purchases Per Week Limit your household purchases to this many this week.  In a normal week, that includes gas, groceries, maybe a meal or two, and a few other expenses.  Since you’re spending big for the holidays, cut back on your other purchases to offset your additional holiday purchases.  Maybe that means cutting out lunch out or drinks with the guys.  If you can limit the number of times you spend money each week, you’ll actually end up limiting the amount you spend each week. Really.

10 Percent of Your Monthly Budgets for Groceries and Entertainment.  The average consumer can easily reduce their spending on groceries and entertainment by 10 percent each month. That’s easy money (and more than $50 for most people) that can be put toward holiday purchases. Little differences like having a glass of wine before you go out or sticking to your grocery shopping list add up to significant savings.

9 Things to Look for in Your Free Credit Report. Get a jump on any post-holiday surprises by ordering your credit report now. Once you have it in hand, you should check nine key sections to make sure your credit is a-ok.

8 Extra Cans of Food at the Grocery Store.  Charity doesn’t have to be complicated, and don’t assume that you can’t afford it.  Little things, like buying a few extra cans of food at the grocery store, sending your gently-used clothes to the Goodwill, or volunteering an hour of your time every week can make a world of difference to a person in need.

7 Steps to Improving Bad Credit. The holidays aren’t an excuse to put off improving your credit. In fact, there’s no better time to start thinking about spending responsibility.  Don’t put all of your holiday expenses on your credit card. Don’t max out your card. Spend responsibly and you’ll be building good credit rather than doing damage.

6 Different Debts. So you have six open lines of debt. And maybe you’re about to create another this holiday. Don’t do it! And, more importantly, resist the urge to consolidate! This might seem like a good idea, but actually it will prolong your debt, indebt you to another (the consolidator) and do further damage to your credit score.

5 Percent of Your Monthly Income. That’s how much money you have to spend on your guilty pleasure, be it cars, clothes, wine or home decorating. Don’t think that just because you’re being generous with others this holiday season, it gives you an excuse to be overly generous with yourself. Anything than over five percent is overspending.

4 Major Credit Cards. Seriously? You really need four-or more-major credit cards? If you’re justifying your overspending this holiday by spreading it over multiple cards, you’re kidding yourself. Take your gas card, your back-up card, and that department store card, and cut them up! No one needs more than one credit card, and you should be able to put all of your holiday purchases on it-then pay them off.

3 Tiers of Savings. Don’t let holiday spending-and post-holiday payments-put you off your savings plans. You should always be thinking about saving for short-term emergencies, mid-range big purchases (a car, a home), and retirement.

2 Jobs. Sometimes your full-time job just isn’t enough. If you’re planning on making some major purchases this holiday season that you can’t realistically cover, it might be time for you to consider a part-time job. Snowplowing, babysitting, you name it, a few hundred dollars extra each month can make a big difference and get you out of the hole a lot quicker than you might think possible.

1 Monthly Budget Meeting. It’s a must. Head off financial crisis-or just some big January fights-with your significant others by sitting down to a monthly budget meeting, where you look at your past spending and plan for the future. It’s painful at first, but it only gets easier as you get more financially aware.

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