Planning for the day of shopping after Thanksgiving

Published 9:01pm Friday, November 19, 2010

The day after Thanksgiving is when Dallas County citizens, as well as millions across our state gets up before the dawn of day (and sometimes stand in line through the night) to be the first or so in when the doors open on what is known as the largest shopping day in our country – the day after Thanksgiving Day Sale. We all want to get the perfect gift for Christmas at a best price.
Christmas is a magical time of the year! It’s my favorite holiday and if you asked most kids, they will probable agree with me. As parents and adults we sometime allow our emotions and all the trappings of the season to cause us to get carry away and blow our budget completely (that’s if you had a budget to begin with). I challenge you to keep in mind that money is to be spent joyfully, but if you go into debt by overspending, you will some lose the joy that you felt on Christmas day when the bills arrive the next month. One way to avoid overspending is to develop a spending plan. There is no doubt about it – making and sticking with a spending plan works.
There are several steps in making a plan. First, decide how much you can afford to spend for the holidays, be sure to include all areas – gifts, decorations, food for meal preparations, travel cost, etc. Next sit down with your family and decide where you want your money to go. Some things to take into consideration are your family values – that is what’s important. Next, set some goals and be specific. You may discover from your family that it’s more important to visit and spend time with relatives than to purchase some big ticketed electronic item.
When meeting with your children, help them be realistic about gifts. Children who started a list of gifts they would like to receive months in advance can feel terribly let down when they don’t receive everything on their list. To help your children understand, talk with them about your sense of values and that the purpose of advertising is to sell products. Many kids discover after they have received a toy that it wasn’t as great as it appeared on television. This is also a good time to talk with them about shifting the focus from receiving gifts to giving gifts to those who are less fortunate.
After you have your list completed, compare your income with your planned expenses. If your income covers your goals and expenses and you are satisfied with the results, great. However, if your expenses add up to more than your income, you’ll need to look at all parts of your plan and adjust. Decide where you are overspending and where you can cut back. Try to make cutbacks in each area – not just gifts and discuss your plans with family members, so there will be no surprises on Christmas day.
While shopping keep these points in mind.
4 Know the store’s return policies before you buy. Check the receipt and if the policy is not the receipt ask the clerk or manger to write it down.
4 Avoid buying unnecessary warranties; these often duplicate the product’s existing warranty and rarely are worth the extra cost.
4 Keep records of all your purchases. This will help you monitor your spending and stay within your budget.
4 Pay by cash, check, or debit card. This is the best way to avoid finance charges from credit card bills.
4 Looking for something different this year – consider getting creative. Store-bought gifts are great, but when you make a gift for someone they truly appreciate your time and effort. For ideas visit instructables.com.
To help you prepare for the next Christmas holiday, make it a year-long effort. Begin now to save for your holiday expenses. Decide how much you will need and save one twelfth each month. To assist you in planning a budget, contact the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Dallas County Office for your free Money Management Calendar. You may contact us by calling 334-875-3200 or emailing Callie Nelson at cnelson@aces.edu. Happy shopping and you might just see me in line at the Day after Thanksgiving sale.

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