Black Friday has come and gone, beginning the holiday shopping season. Stacey Tisdale, author of “The True Cost of Happiness,’’ has these tips to avoid overspending:
1. Set aside the guilt. Will buying your kids, parents, or spouse the latest gadget or beautiful bauble make you feel less guilty for not spending enough time with them? Make time for togetherness, not excess purchases.
2. Don’t spend more than you can pay back in one month, to keep that credit card debt from piling up.
3. Use a debit card, checks, or cash. Making purchases with money that you already have on hand will keep you from going into credit card debt over the holidays. If you’re worried about a child, spouse, or parent overspending themselves into debt, you can purchase a Next Step MasterCard for them, which is prepaid, allows you to set weekly or daily spending limits, and provides tracking for all purchases. It costs $9.95 for two cards and has a $14.95 monthly fee.
4. Put meaning into your gifts. I’d be thrilled if my kids gave me IOU cards for household duties. I’d also appreciate a small donation to one of my favorite charities. Or how about planning an outing to the theater or favorite restaurant?
5. Plan ahead for the following year. Start a Christmas Club account — a short-term bank account that harks back to the Great Depression — where you set aside $50 or $100 a month to save for the holidays. See if you can reduce monthly spending to put into holiday savings.