Parents in Action: Budgeting for the Holidays

TAMPA - This time of year for most is filled with wonderful memories and celebrations. But after the holiday cheer settles many people find themselves in a financial bind as they head into the New Year. No matter what the reason, there are many ways that people end up spending more then they'd liked during the holidays.  Each case is different but here are three ways you can save some extra cash during these glad tidings.

Create a Budget
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Research Group, Americans plan to spend an average of $801 on holiday gifts this year. Whether you plan to spend more or less, creating a budget is the first BIG step to staying within your financial means during the holidays.  You will want to start with the amount of money your going to spend total. Then, create a list of everyone you plan to buy a gift for. Using your total budget as a guide, establish how much will be spent on each person.

Choosing who to purchase gifts for is where people sometimes get in trouble. If you are on a budget, don't feel pressure to purchase anything you can't afford or buy gifts for people you can't afford to include in your holiday budget. There's nothing wrong with a nice holiday card.

Be Wary of Gift Cards
Gift card offers and transactions are often used as holiday gifts because of their simplicity and the wide array of choices. But according to the Federal Trade Commission, shopper should be careful. When purchasing a gift card, only deal with reputable businesses (this applies to online purchases as well like EBAY). Also be on the look out for hidden fees as well as expiration dates associated with some cards.

In recent years, gift cards issued by banks often come along with activation and other fees that help skyrocket companies' profits. To curb this trend, in 2012 Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Gift Card Consumer Protection Act which would protect consumers from non-use fees and other ridiculous rules.

Meaning VS Cost
When it comes to holiday shopping some people often prefer to go the route of a more expensive gifts because they feel it means more. That couldn't be further from the truth. If money is tight this year, there's no shame in creating or even baking gifts for family and friends. This time of year isn't about who can spend more money but who can give the gift of family, appreciation and love.  In the December issue of Tampa Bay Parenting, we share an article of some unique, free gifts that are sure to make the holiday bright for the whole family.

Here are some examples for you to consider:

For Mom
- Redeem for a week-end day of performing your chores.
- Good for one car wash.

For Dad
- Good for a day without electronics.
- Redeem for help with lawn care.

For Siblings
- Redeem for cleaning your room.
- Good for a kind attitude toward you all weekend.

For Grandparents
- Good for a game of cards or board game of your choice
- Redeem for time together at the movies


Next week's segment: Teaching Your Kids to be Thankful

Sources:
TBParenting.com
FTC.gov
AmericanResearchGroup.com

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