Learn How to Lower the Cost of the Holiday Season

When most folks worry about maxing out their credit cards this season, they're thinking of gift shopping. But there are a lot of forgotten small expenses that can leave you deeper in debt come January.

For example, let's look at the annual holiday get-together. Maybe you always throw your own Christmas party. Or maybe between work and friends, you're invited to a half dozen holiday fetes this month. The result can be the same - between groceries for cooking, festive decorations, hostess gifts, and (if you really go crazy) new outfits, you could bust your budget before you make it through your gift list.

It's hard to maintain financial control this time of year, what with the festive feeling in the air, tempting sale displays on store shelves and holiday advertisements bombarding you from the TV screen, magazine pages, billboards and radio. But use the following advice to help you stick to that budget like you do the rest of the year and you'll be in better shape when the tree and lights come down and we all return to our regular lives.

For instance, stick to your list when you're shopping for food - or when you're shopping for anything, for that matter. That way you won't be tempted to make impulse buys (another tip: don't hit the grocery store hungry - gets me every time). You know how grocery stores offer free turkeys when you, say, spend $100? If you had only planned to buy about $50 worth of food and the turkey would normally cost $20, you'd actually save more by paying full-price for the bird. You can apply the same idea to the holiday bargain bins. Last year's tablecloth might be half off, but if you don't really need another tablecloth, you could save more by not buying it - because there's no discount better than zero.

When you absolutely have to make a purchase, try comparing prices at different stores or looking for specific coupons. Or find a way to cut out most spending altogether. If you're throwing your own party, why not host a potluck? If you're attending a party, consider bringing something homemade (like cookies) or from home (like a movie to watch or a game to play).

If you're worried about being too cheap this year, try looking at it this way. Food is fleeting and holiday trinkets will spend eleven months of the year gathering dust in a box in the garage. But memories last forever. The holidays should be about enjoying time with friends and family, not putting yourself in the poorhouse.

If you find that financial stress is interfering with your ability to enjoy the season, it's going to require more than spending tips and a budget to put you back in control. That's what time-tested debt relief strategies like bankruptcy are for. When you file for bankruptcy, you'll find an affordable way to reduce or eliminate your debts that also protects against creditor actions like foreclosure and lawsuits. Learn more about bankruptcy for free when you sign up for a complimentary personal debt analysis with one of our professional bankruptcy attorneys in Atlanta.

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