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Christmas in July!

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Christmas is only 151 days away! We know that we’re not the only ones who get pretty excited about the holidays. It’s hard to resist the special emotions that swirl around when celebrating the year, spending time with friends and family, and brushing clean the slate for a new year. Speaking of a new year, it’s a big bummer to start the year out with credit card debt from over-spending during the holidays. Not to worry! We have three easy, fresh ideas for how to start preparing now for holiday expenses.

  1. Points and rewards! If you’re using a credit card or a debit card, you’re probably accumulating rewards or getting cash back. From now until the holidays, don’t apply the cash back to your bill each month. Let it accumulate and then use the additional savings to offset your gift-giving! (Note, this only works if you’re paying your credit card off each month. If you’re not, cleaning up the balance should be a very important and immediate goal.) If you receive points instead of cash back, shop from your card issuer’s rewards. Some cards offer gift cards or goods at a discount to face value. If you have people on your list to whom you like to give gift cards, it could be a huge savings for you.
  2. Love it or sell it! Sure, garage sales are a good way to make a little extra money in the summer, but we’re talking about bigger items. Who doesn’t have stuff they no longer need or want but that still has value? The opportunities and methods to offload it for cash are vast and easy, and include Craigslist, Next Door, LetGo, and E-bay, among many others. Think about the big items you own but never use, like furniture, exercise equipment, décor items, bikes and recreation equipment, or toys and clothing that children have outgrown. If you have gently used designer clothing, consider consigning it. We know people who have made thousands of dollars by getting rid of things they no longer need. Be sure to set aside the money you make in a special account so it’s there for the holidays.
  3. Make a list and check it twice! It’s not too early to start building a list of the people or organizations to whom you wish to give a gift this year. Two great opportunities are around the corner that may present opportunities to buy the items on your list at a better price: summer clearance and Black Friday/Cyber Monday. If you start watching now, you’ll also get a better feel for the price range at which items on your list are selling. A variety of internet tools exist for price-watching, like CamelCamelCamel, SlickDeals, and PriceZombie. Start early, save often!

You know what they say: the early bird gets the worm. The holidays may seem like they’re a long way in the future, but the season will be here before we know it. Get a jump on the joy with these great tips!

 
Image courtesy of Naito8 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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