CHICAGO, IL – The holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday. The excitement of the holidays creates a tendency for consumers to overspend, but planning ahead can lessen the impact when credit card bills start rolling in. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers financial tips to help make sure your holidays, and the days after, are merry and bright!
“It is easy to get wrapped up in the holiday season and forget to budget,” said Steve J. Bernas, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “You do not want the fun of the holidays to leave you strapped for cash come January.”
Before hitting the stores take the time to determine an overall budget, decide how much to designate for each category (gifts, parties, travel, food and donations), then get into details like how much to spend on each person or for parties and travel. Creating a budget and sticking to it can be a challenge. However, being more conscious of your holiday spending habits will help you start the new year without a lot of new debt.
The BBB offers more ideas for sticking to a budget:
Less is more: Reduce gift-giving.For work gatherings, have everyone draw a name and give one gift. Set limits with family members and then get creative about finding something in your new, lower price range. For the person who has everything, consider making a charitable donation in his or her name.
Do It Yourself: Homemade crafts and decorations can be fun to make and to give. Consider baking or canning your gifts this year. Give gift certificates for future services (babysitting, dog walking, leaf raking) or special events after the holidays (shows, ice skating, sleigh rides).
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Use less of everything, because little things add up. Is it necessary to gift wrap that huge box? How about putting a “clue” under the tree instead and have the recipient find the present hidden someplace else in the house. Reuse gift bags – they are sturdy enough to be used five or six times. Make your own gift tags and decorations. Spray paint old candle holders gold or silver instead of buying new ones. Â
Trim Energy Costs: Switch to LED lights. You’ll not only burn less energy, and you’ll need fewer strands because the lights are brighter.Turn off your outside decorations when you go to bed. Turn down the thermostat when no one is home. Combine shopping trips and errands, and carpool to family gatherings. Â
For more information on holiday shopping and finding businesses you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.