MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
The holiday season is just around the corner. The following tips can help individuals plan ahead for a stress free, thrifty new year.
Develop a budget
Decide how much money you have and how much of it you are willing to spend this holiday season. Take into consideration gifts, food, entertainment, decorations, holiday cards, postage, holiday clothing and travel expenses. Looking at the numbers will help make a smart shopping list. Make sure to stick to the list, too!
Do something different
Discuss with family and friends the idea of drawing names for a gift exchange - when you have large extended families or a big circle of friends, those gifts can start piling up and be expensive. Consider drawing names or even only buying gifts for the children in your families. Be sure to set a reasonable price limit so everyone will get a gift of equal value.
Keep a record
Make sure to track expenses. Keep a notebook in the car and record things as you buy them. It would also be helpful to have a copy of your spending budget for referral. This will help stay on task as you make your purchases. If you see yourself coming close to going over budget - there will still be time to fix it.
Avoid impulse buying
First, make a list of everyone you intend to a buy a gift for - before going shopping. Write down a few gift ideas after each name on your list and then do your research. When we shop, we sometimes end up buying the first item in the first store we visit. Doing a little bit of research before heading out to the stores will save time and money. Go online and check different stores to find the best price for the items you want. And when you do hit the stores, you will have a rock solid plan and save money.
Gifts are a big part of the holidays - but also the most expensive part. This year, instead of buying expensive items, opt for something a little more sentimental and special. Give the gift of memories to your family and friends. Create a scrapbook with memorable photos for your loved ones that will bring back memories for the giver and receiver. Offer up your babysitting services for your friends who could use a night out, a family photo session, house cleaning or a cooked meal. These are all wonderful gifts that they won’t soon forget and some unique ways to save for the holidays. Plus, you’ll have a great time creating it.
The Airman and Family Readiness Center wishes everyone a joyful holiday season – without the stress! For more information, contact Tracie Faulk at 731-4900.