Tuesday, October 21, 2008
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Sunday, October 5, 2008
Just as people are beginning to think of the fall and winter holidays, the U.S. is entering a period of economic uncertainty. Don't let this financial stress be the Grinch that steals your fun. Go Nico Fish!,an online resource for shoppers, offers suggestions to help you plan and prepare now for happy and budget-friendly celebrations.
1) First, gather the family together to discuss expectations and priorities. What is most important to your family? Is it expressing your faith? Serving the community? Spending time together? Is your plan to catch up with relatives and friends? Or, would you rather devote the season to your immediate household? Do you plan to travel, or would you rather stay put? By defining a few holiday objectives now and following through with them as the season progresses, your family will enjoy meaningful holidays. A clear focus will keep everyone from feeling frazzled by the expectations of others or disappointed when unspoken personal expectations are not met.
2) Draw up a plan to de-clutter and clean your home. Let children in the family participate by clearing their rooms of outgrown or broken items. If you like, involve your children in donating outgrown but usable items to charity. Set daily and weekly goals and work steadily toward making your home a peaceful holiday haven.
3) Create an overall holiday budget. Consider items such as travel costs, costumes, gifts, wrapping and postage, food and meal preparations, decorations, cards, etc. If you must cut back this year in comparison to previous holiday seasons, talk about this with your family. Involve everyone in creative ways to save money and still have fun. Emphasize the positive aspects of what you can do, rather than focusing on what you can't.
4) If you plan to send photo cards, have your family picture taken now. Also, update your holiday card list. You can even have your cards made now and begin addressing envelopes.
5) Keeping your overall budget in mind, determine how much you wish to spend for gifts. Make a list of everyone to whom you would like to give a gift. By each name, write a dollar amount and one or two gift suggestions.
6) Visit Internet shopping resources to scout out gift ideas. Family friendly sites, such as Go Nico Fish! and Smart Spending Resources, are great places to start. Look for sales and coupons throughout the fall season. Black Friday and Cyber-Monday are not the only days when merchants offer fabulous discounts. Also, don't forget to look for deals that include coupon promotional codes, free shipping, and other discounts.
7) Plan now for holiday meals and treats. Work non-perishable items into your weekly grocery shopping. Start stocking up a little bit at a time to avoid over-spending at the last minute. Don't forget to look for online printable grocery coupones, which can you can take with you to local grocery stores.
8) Cook and freeze meals and treats now to be used during the busy holiday season.
9) Set up a wrapping center in a nook of your home. Make sure you have enough tape, scissors, labels and tags, wrapping paper, bows, and any other items for decorating and mailing packages.
10) The holidays can be stressful in and of themselves, as can coping with a rocky economy. Make sure to allow time in your fall and holiday schedule for exercise, rest, and family fun time. Remember that by planning and working ahead, you are doing what you can to lesson financial stress for your family. Use this season as a time to relax and renew.