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The holidays were never meant to be marked by stress, anxiety


Post-traumatic-stress-disorderThe holidays were never meant to be marked by stress and anxiety. But all too often, the most wonderful time of the year becomes less about spending time with loved ones and more about overscheduling and overspending.

These 10 holiday shopping and spending tips can help keep your holidays merry and your finances bright as you remember the reason for this magical season.

Start saving early. There’s no better time than the present to start saving for the holidays. No matter when you start saving, think about opening a holiday savings account that you can deposit money into all year. That way, you’ll not only have money saved for when you’re ready to start your holiday shopping, you’ll earn interest, too.

Set a realistic budget. Figure out exactly how much money you have to spend. And don’t forget to factor in wrapping paper, holiday cards and postage. The little extras that are often forgotten are just the things that can throw your entire budget off track if you’re not careful.

Make your holiday shopping list. After your budget has been set and you’ve started saving, it’s a good idea to create a list of everyone you intend to buy for. Don’t forget to include items like hostess gifts for parties you’ll attend, a gift for your boss and that family gift exchange you’re included in year after year. Then, once you’ve made your list, keep it handy so you can refer to it often to keep yourself from forgetting anyone and to help you to stay on track. It also may be smart to purchase a few small gifts for surprise visitors or a last minute party.

Do your homework. There’s nothing worse than buying a gift at full price, only to see that another retailer is selling it cheaper. So, before you hit the stores, do your homework and compare prices for the gifts you know you want to buy. From newspaper ads to online shopping that offers free shipping and other holiday deals, do your research and create a “plan of attack” to help your money work harder for you.

Count down to the holidays. There’s no better motivation to get your holiday shopping done on time than to make a countdown to the holidays and put it somewhere you can see it. That way you’ll always know exactly how long you have to finish shopping and get gifts wrapped and sent, if needed.

Get a head start. It’s much easier to make smart choices with your money when you’re not waiting until the last minute to shop. Procrastinating only promotes rushed shopping, overspending and buyer’s remorse as the guilt of going over budget sets in. So, get a head start and begin your holiday shopping early enough to take your time and make smart choices.
Be thoughtful. When in doubt about a gift to give, get creative and be thoughtful. Think about your most cherished gifts throughout the years – they’re probably some of the most thoughtful gifts you’ve received. Thoughtful and creative gifts, such as a scrapbook of shared memories or an appreciation book may take a little more effort or time, but they’ll no doubt be some of your recipients’ favorites and will also probably save you money in the long run.

If all else fails, give a gift card. If you’ve had trouble finding the perfect gift or you simply run out of time, give the gift that everyone’s sure to enjoy. A Nationwide Bank Visa Gift Card is the ideal gift for anyone on your holiday shopping list. You can even register a Visa Gift Card to protect it if it’s ever lost or stolen – something you can’t do with a holiday card filled with cash.

Make a payoff plan. If you were able to save some money throughout the year to help lighten the financial burden when the holidays roll around, great. If not, make a plan to pay off the money you’ve spent once the New Year arrives. It’s important that you set a financial strategy that works for you and your budget.

Ready, set, shop. After you’ve made your list, set your budget and done your homework, you’re ready to shop until you drop. It’s a great feeling to hit up the stores you need and start checking items off your list. And remember, the holidays are a great time to take advantage of price-match guarantees, free shipping and other end-of-year deals.

These holiday shopping tips are sure to help you slow down and enjoy the holidays for what they’re meant to be – a special time to spend with your loved ones. Avoid holiday hassle during the period and the rest of the year.

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