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Christmas is quickly approaching, and while the holidays are a time of joy, they are also a season which has many families looking for ways to streamline their budgets. The holidays are a real financial double-whammy, because everyday household expenses such as heating often increase during the winter months, along with the extra holiday expenditures of purchasing gifts, preparing big holiday meals, traveling to see family and/or hosting relatives from out of town. So if the approaching holidays have you sweating, you are definitely not alone! When it comes to getting your finances in shape, there are three areas to consider: Earning extra money, saving as much money as possible by cutting expenses, and reducing your debt. We’re going to take a brief look at all three topics in this post as some thought-starters for you to consider as you make your budget in the months ahead:
Saving Money: Four Tips to Stretch Your Dollar
If you’re looking for ways to trim the fat and cut expenses, here’s a few tactics to consider:
- Make a list & shop sales: Get started on your Christmas shopping list right now! Write down everyone you want to buy for, and keep your eyes peeled for sales, discount racks, and clearance items as opportunities to shop ahead and avoid a last-minute scramble – which usually ends up costing more.
- Use paper coupons & store apps: Before you go to any store – whether it be for holiday gifts or just a regular grocery run – take a moment to look through your coupon binder or pull up the store’s coupon app on your phone and add any relevant discounts. If you don’t have a coupon binder, this might be the time to start! Sites like Hot Coupon World can help show you the ropes and clue you in to what coupons are out there and how to use them.
- Shopping online? Google coupon codes & cashback! Any time you need to make an online purchase, it’s worth doing a quick check on a site like RetailMeNot to see if there’s any coupon codes available to save a couple of bucks. I also use cashback websites anytime I make a purchase from a qualifying retailer – I’ve been a member of Rakuten since 2008 and always take a few seconds to look up the online store I’m about to purchase from to see if it qualifies for cashback. Cashback isn’t instant, but it will put money back into your pocket for next Christmas!
- Get thrifty: Second-hand stores are an awesome place to shop on a budget – they often have fantastic, gift-worthy items at very affordable prices!
Another thing to remember this time of year is that nothing is more important than your family’s financial security. While there is often a lot of pressure to spend the most money or buy the most presents, this shallow, materialistic push shouldn’t bully you into spending money you don’t have. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know that you’re on a budget this year, keeping Christmas simple and won’t be purchasing presents for anyone outside your kids, for example. The holidays are about the people you love, not expensive stuff.
Earning Money: Three Ways to Increase Your Budget
Sometimes, you’ve cut every corner you can and still come up short. This is a stressful position to be in, and may mean coming up with ideas to bring extra cash in. Here’s a few places to start:
Pick up more hours at work: Can you pick up a few extra shifts at work covering for someone else, if you work a 9-5? Or if you work freelance, do you have time to take on a few more projects?
Take on a second job: If your schedule allows, can you take on a second job temporarily? This might be seasonal work doing inventory or working for a delivery service, looking for placement through a temp agency or classified ad, or asking for leads through friends and colleagues.
Start a side hustle: Now is not the time to start a new business, but consider if there’s anything you could do quickly with no startup cost to get a “Side hustle” going. Can you drive for a ride sharing service like Uber? Do you have any clutter you could clear out on a site like eBay for some extra cash?
Tackling Debt: Look Into Services Such as Grand Canyon Advisors
Increasing both your earnings and savings are the most important steps towards getting on a better track financially. Once you’ve done these things, you might start to look at previously accrued debts and consider your strategy for dealing with them. Paying your debts off as soon as possible by putting all available extra cash towards the balance – and avoiding future debt like the plague whenever it’s possible – is the most important thing you can do to take control of your finances and avoid a squeeze during future holidays. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may also consider whether a service such as Grand Canyon Advisors is something you’d like to look into.
Who Are Grand Canyon Advisors?
Grand Canyon Advisors is a company that aims to simplify payments for consumers in order to streamline their debts. Their website offers a comparison calculator where you can punch in your current debt balance and monthly payments to see if their service might help you save money. This type of service is not for everyone, and you must carefully consider your situation and consult with your financial planner and accountant to see if this might be right for you. Your goal should always be to take steps to improve your longterm situation and get out of debt – even if that means having a smaller Christmas than usual!
Learn More About Grand Canyon Advisors
To learn more about Grand Canyon Advisors and check out their comparison calculator, visit them online at GrandCanyonAdvisors.com.
So there you have it: Three areas to look at when planning your budget for Christmas. Have you tried any of these suggestions? Do you have another tip that I missed? Leave it in the comments below!