21 Tips for Wiser Holiday Spending
To Help You Avoid Becoming a "Debt-Head"

San Diego, CA - The 2003 holiday season is approaching and this could lead to even more credit card buying than last year, both for household basics and holiday gifts. Advertising encouraging consumers to engage in credit-based spending for the gifts and holiday travel will, no doubt, be very seductive.

How do consumers develop resistance to such seductive sales appeals? Develop some financial self-discipline," advises the Institute of Consumer Financial Education, (ICFE) a San Diego based, award winning nonprofit group helping people of all ages become better spenders, regular savers and more careful use of credit.

Human emotions are heightened and therefore it seems to be especially hard for some people not to take on debt during the holidays because of the need to express love, appreciation, and friendship.

Developing better spending methods and techniques is one way people can help eliminate overspending and keep from getting all charged-up with plastic this holiday season.

Following is a list of useful spending tips and ideas for holiday shoppers which can help people spend less overall and perhaps even eliminate the need for any credit-based spending at all.

1) Create a written plan for holiday spending and gift giving a month or two in advance. Include possible gifts, dollar amounts and alternative choices.

2) Establish spending limits for gifts for each person on your list and start looking for bargains early.

3) If it has been a challenging year financially, then shrink your holiday gift list. Begin by talking with those you exchange gifts with and perhaps suggesting not exchanging gifts or mutually observing much lower dollar-limits on gifts.

4) Separate shopping trips (when going to compare prices, quality, value, etc.) from spending trips (when going to make a purchase), and resist taking cash, credit cards or a checkbook on the shopping trips.

5) Wait for those sales! Ever increasing food and energy costs could bite into holiday sales, so sales and clearances could come earlier than usual.

6) Watch the sale flyers in the mailbox for items you intend to purchase.

7) Ask retailers when the items you are interested in buying are coming on sale. Most retailers will reveal sale dates because they don t want you to shop their competition.

8) Sometimes shopping later in the season (for smaller gifts wrapping and accessories, etc.) will allow you to take advantage of clearance sales.
It will often yield lower prices overall. If holiday sales are sluggish, dis- counts and clearance sales will appear earlier this season.

9) Liquidators, buying clubs and factory outlet stores usually offer lower prices.

10) Bulk buying with other family members or friends can also yield savings.

11) Spend cash and avoid using credit cards. Charge cards tend to promote
indiscriminate spending. Credit card users often say they had no idea how much they spent on the holidays until the credit card bills arrive in January or February of the next year.

12) WARNING, credit cards have a message: SPEND!

13) Sometimes writing checks or using EFT/ATMs can get out of hand especially when you fail to record each check or calculate the balance after making an EFT purchase or write a check. It often results in overspending, playing the cash float game and NSF check charges.

14) Giving gifts to adults on New Year s Day is also very special. Then you can really take advantage of all those after Christmas sales.

15) Consider gifts that don t cost a lot of out-of-pocket money. Giving a card to a young family which entitles them to emergency baby-sitting time, for example, will result in savings for both families. Laundry or shirt-ironing for a bachelor, a bimonthly sight-seeing outing for senior citizens or gardening, housecleaning and car washes for grandparents are useful and often much needed gifts. 16) If considering a part-time job over the holidays, perhaps working for a depart- ment store or other major retailer because you could then economize with an
employee discount in addition to getting notices about upcoming sales.

17) At office parties and other holiday functions where you might be asked to pro- vide a gift, suggest that instead of gifts, people bring canned food for the home
less or disadvantaged families and individuals.

18) Save more on holiday greeting cards and postage by sending only to those in your life you won t see over the holiday.

19) Make more of your gifts at home. A freshly baked loaf of bread, cookies, des- serts, etc. are always appreciated. Also art, crafts, needle work or a collage of photographs.

20) Instead of giving money younger children, give them some U. S. Savings bonds. They cost one half of the face value, will not be immediately spent, they encourage savings, and because they are interest bearing and tax free until redemption, the gift keeps on giving.

21) Gift wrapping and incidentals can become costly. It is easy to economize;
give a card with a photo of the gift and the unwrapped gift, use newspapers, magazines, grocery and shopping bags as gift wrap or reusable gift boxes etc.

It is also very easy to overspend on household and grocery items, especially during the holidays. The ICFE has available (for $1 with a SASE), "How to Spend Smarter for Household and Grocery Items" and the popular "ICFE Spender's Profile," send $1 and a 60-cent, stamped self-addressed to: ICFE Money Helps, PO Box 34070, San Diego, CA 92163.