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Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Holiday Shopping without Santa's Budget...
It's Six Weeks until Christmas and Time to Make Yours!ICCCS of Greater Dallas offers free webinars and tips for consumer holiday spending plans
Dallas - November 9, 2010 - The six-week countdown to Christmas begins this Saturday, Nov. 13. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported holiday retail sales are expected to increase a modest 2.3 percent this year as more than 60 percent of shoppers say the economy will impact their spending plans.
November 18 - 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
"Although many consumers are struggling through the slow economic recovery, they don't want it to damper their holiday spirit," said Todd Mark, vice president of education for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas. "It's important to think ahead and turn your holiday shopping list into a spending plan that won't break your budget or leave you in debt as we enter the new year."
As part of its free online education covering a variety of financial issues, CCCS of Greater Dallas is introducing, "Holiday Shopping without Santa's Budget," a new webinar course to help consumers plan wisely for holiday spending. The hour-long course explores holiday planning and shopping tips, financially responsible gift suggestions and hints for a stress-free celebration. The webinar is available at www.cccs.net/webinars during the following dates and times:
November 23 - 1 to 2 p.m.
November 23 - 8 to 9 p.m.
Start with a detailed budget. We can't stress this enough. Write down every purchase you will make for the holiday season from gifts for your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, to food for dinners and parties, travel expenses, shipping, wrapping and decorating your home. Place a dollar amount for each purchase and list out your recipients. It's usually the minor expenses that ruin our budgets, so creating a list for each and every item will help keep your budget in line.
Don't wait until the last minute. Many retailers are promoting early holiday savings in an effort to increase their overall holiday sales. According to the NRF, 80 percent of online retailers began holiday promotions the first week of November and some stores are already offering special deals on big ticket items. Make a list of every gift you'd like to purchase and watch for it to go on sale so you don't get caught up in impulse shopping. Retailers are expecting the most popular gifts to go fast, so it's essential to know what you want to buy for people.
Take advantage of online shopping. Almost all major retailers are online, offering consumers the ability to: 1. Research and compare prices ahead of time to know what's really a good deal. 2. Watch for free shipping. (The NRF expects most retailers will offer it throughout the season.) 3. Check for printable coupons online or online-only specials.
Collect coupons for extra savings. Keep a stash of coupons in your car or wallet for stores you plan to shop, and you'll be prepared to receive extra savings when you make your purchases. Some stores will also coupon match, so don't hesitate to do a little bargaining when you visit your favorite retailers.
Prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you plan to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, review the sales ads on Thanksgiving and map out an itinerary to plan an efficient route. Take the ads with you because most stores will match prices if you can present the competitor's ad. The early door-busters really are the best deals. However, Cyber Monday is becoming more competitive for retailers and more popular for consumers with free shipping and no stress or wasted gas from racing around town.
Use credit cards and methods of payment strategically. Only use one credit card so you can track all of your spending and make sure it is a credit card with a low interest rate. It's important to avoid charging anything you can't safely pay off in three months. Many banks have raised their interest rates and cut credit lines, which means your purchases this year could cost you even more if you don't pay off your credit card balance in full. If you don't have the discipline to use credit responsibly, it's best to withdraw your budgeted amount of holiday cash and leave your credit cards at home.
Avoid department store credit cards. Retailers will be promoting extraordinary deals accompanying your submission of a credit application. While a free gift or a 10 percent discount can be tempting when money is tight, remember that signing up for department store cards will only lead to more debt and a diminishing credit score.
Remember the reason for the season. Many consumers will not be able to please everyone on their lists this year with tangible items, but everyone can give the "gift of love." There are many things your loved ones need that don't require you spending money. Consider giving a night of babysitting for a busy couple, cleaning the house of an elderly relative, helping a friend with some handy work, assisting a neighbor with lawn maintenance, changing the oil in your mom's car or bringing an uncle a home-cooked meal. These gifts are special reminders that the holiday season isn't all about spending.
CCCS of Greater Dallas offers free financial education and counseling throughout the year. To schedule a class at your location or attend one of its free seminars, please call 1-800-249-2227. A full list of webinars and schedules can be found at www.cccs.net/webinars.
About CCCS of Greater Dallas
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas, Inc. is a non-profit, community-based credit counseling and debt management service. Established in 1974, CCCS of Greater Dallas and its affiliate offices provide financial education and counseling to consumers in-person, by phone, or Internet through their 22 locations in four states. CCCS of Greater Dallas is a HUD-approved housing counseling multi-state organization and serves as one of seven counseling agencies supporting the 888-995-HOPE Hotline. The agency is also a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the nation's largest and longest serving national non-profit credit counseling network. To learn more about CCCS of Greater Dallas' free seminars or the agency's services, visit www.cccs.net.