Managing Your Holiday Spending - Part 2

Coupons and Codes That Help You Save
Use coupons and online codes for freebies and discounts! You can find plenty of money-saving offers online and in local advertising.

moneysavingmom.com is a great site to check out. Join their email list to access their freebie libraries and coupon database. They also offer financial tips and the option to sign up for free text alerts so you won't miss any interesting offers.

couponmom.com has a large database of printable coupons for many popular stores, offering deals on holiday food, gifts, decorations, and more. This site has been featured on dozens of national television shows and can surely help you save money this festive season.

thekrazycouponlady.com offers an app that you can download with many of the same benefits. They offer coupons, spending tips, extreme discounts from well-known stores, freebies and more! The app is right on your phone, so you won't miss a thing, even while you're shopping.

groupon.com is another great app worth checking out. This website offers deals and print-out coupons for everything from restaurants and groceries, to entertainment and vacation deals. Some of their deals might even have you considering making travel your new holiday tradition! Download the app, sign up for email alerts and start saving.

If you shop at Wal-Mart, their "savings catcher" tool is a great resource for stretching your gifts and goodies budget. Once you complete your grocery shopping, enter your receipt online for a price-comparison with local competitors and get an eGift Card for the difference.

Target also offers several money-saving resources, like the popular savings program "cartwheel" they have recently included in the Target App. Sign up for an account, download the app, and check out all the neat things you can do. Scan your barcode after shopping to save between 5-50% off hundreds of items. You will be able to view order history, lifetime savings, and much more. In-store, you can also shop the end caps for great clearance deals.

Finally, look for stores offering double coupon days. This option doubles the value of individual coupons! Another marvelous coupon tip is to find coupons for new products, without size restrictions, and use them to purchase trial sized merchandise. These small items make great stocking stuffers.

Smart Gift Ideas
A really quick way to cut down spending is simply to transfer names from the gift list to the "cookie list." Making holiday-themed cookies is easier, cheaper, and relatively less time-consuming than buying individual presents. If you already make homemade bread or jam you can be proud of, the holiday season is a great time to hand it out.

If your extended family insists on trading gifts, encourage a Secret-Santa style of gifting. In Secret Santa, everyone agrees beforehand on a reasonable spending limit and then draws a secret name. Each person is only responsible for giving a gift to the one person whose name they drew while receiving a gift in turn from their own "secret" Santa. This way, everyone gets to enjoy the thrill of traditional gift-giving, while still cutting down on spending.

To a teen or young adult, gift cards are still just as cool as they ever were. You can show them that you understand what they like while allowing them to select the gift that they want. Teenagers, in particular, appreciate the mix of personal recognition and freedom that gift cards express. giftcardgranny.com offers a huge selection of discounted gift cards for GameStop, Kohl's, Amazon, and much more.

Limit Your Use Of Credit
It's no fun to save heaps through sales, deals, and discounts only to lose everything you saved because of pesky credit card interest. Consider using your credit cards only for those amounts which you can pay immediately. Cutting down on card use will spare you the burden of interest charges, which have been hovering around 16% nationally.[1] Would you want to shop at a store where everything is marked up 16%? Making a budget and sticking to it will help determine your limits when it comes to charging credit.

The Bottom Line: Make A Plan & Stick to It
Remember that creating and committing to a budget is the key to your success. Every other money-saving strategy flows from this central principle. Recycling old decorations, using online and in-store shopping deals, trying money-saving gift alternatives and sticking to your credit limit will only work if you make a deliberate plan and stick to it.

Remember, the holiday season is the season of giving. Don't exempt yourself from the generosity: This holiday season, give yourself the gift of careful financial planning. That's one investment you won't regret in the New Year!