Avoid financial hangover in 2011 now!

Saturday, December 18, 2010
By Julie Wiegan

Don’t let your holiday shopping put you in debt in 2011. Start the new year off right with these tips from from David Shapiro of Western Union Payments:

Ask gift recipients if they have a “wish list” online
People who have wish lists on retail sites usually have a large list with a spectrum of price points with something that would fit in your budget. Remember to calculate in the shipping fees for the item prior to clicking “purchase.”

Choose two to three websites to do all your holiday gift shopping
Most sites offer free shipping when you spend a specific amount of money, so shop at a few sites to take advantage of this service. Shopping online also reduces the opportunity for impulse buys that can blow a budget.

Make purchases with your own prepaid gift card
Before starting your holiday shopping, set a budget then buy a prepaid gift card for that specific amount. Make a promise to yourself that when the card is done, so is your shopping.

Plan now to pay your December bills on time
This way when holiday bills arrive in January, you have a fresh start. Take advantage of same-day payment options to ensure just-in-time payments to billers and creditors.

Give the gift of cash
Giving loved ones prepaid gift cards – like cash – or wiring cash gifts helps you stick to your holiday budget. You won’t be enticed by store sales and promotions to spend more than you plan on a loved one. In a recent Western Union survey, more than half of respondents said that they would prefer $100 prepaid gift card, than an actual gift worth $100.

Shop for new gifts at consignment and thrift stores
Nowadays, a lot of major retailers donate brand new-in-the-box items that they do not have room for at the store to local charities who sell at significant discounts. Your gift recipients will never know your budgeting secret!

Stocks make great gifts, for the long term
Instead of buying designer jeans, jewelry, MP3 players, CDs or home furnishings as gifts, give your loved ones stock in the actual company. Stocks are usually cheaper than what the company is selling and in a few years, your loved one may be able to buy double or triple what you could have given them this year.

Use holiday e-cards
When developing your holiday card list, consider sending e-cards to save on postage and card costs. It is better for the environment, too. If you do decide to mail your holiday cards, be sure and include the cost of postage in your holiday budgeting.

Review your list of gift recipients
Propose doing a Secret Santa scenario this year to your circle of friends or family and give one really great gift.


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