Christmas: Fishing Time

The Christmas season is upon us and you know what that means.

It means that retailers have already figured out where the fish (you) are and they are ready to release the bait (“the deal”) that the fish want.

On Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - mall parking lots and department stores will be crowded with people who will be seeking a deal.  On Cyber Monday, the Internet will have quite a bit of traffic to popular retail site by deal seekers.  A deal is a great thing, but this Christmas season, let’s not seek a deal.  Let’s seek what we are in need of.  The retailers want customer to exceed their budgets and they make it very convenient to do so.

Here is a short list of five things that you can consider before you go out seeking a deal during the Christmas season:

1.      Don’t rely on the fact that you will be receiving an income tax return check in January which you will use to pay off your Christmas spending bill.  Yes you may be receiving a check during the tax season but that check could go to invest in your future or assist you in getting out of debt.  Why not consider taking one of those actions with your anticipated income tax refund?

2.      Make a list of items that you need and only seek deals for those items.  (Need here simply means that the item is a necessity for survival.)  Don’t allow the retailers to reel you in.  You have to make wise decisions for your future and that of your family.  Buy what you absolutely need.  You will get a good price on something you need. 

3.      Consider donating some or all of the money set aside for Christmas shopping to those less fortunate than you.  There are many who are less fortunate than we are.  Let’s remember them during the Christmas holiday.  There will also still be people who are displaced from the storms in the northeastern part of the US.  Help someone out, the nature of Christmas is birthed in giving to those who are less fortunate and in need of assistance.  Lend a helping hand; let’s not forget about those who are in need.

4.      Consider giving your children, nieces, nephews or godchildren gifts that will assist them in the future.  One thing that you might want to do is by a share or a few shares of stock and offer this as a gift to your children or relatives who are in the earlier stages of life.  They may look at you funny but over time if the money is invested properly these young people will thank you greatly when they get older. Think investment. 

5.      Create a budget for your Christmas spending and stick to it. This should have been the first, second and third option.  Above everything on the list, establish a budget – parameters on what you are able to spend on Christmas shopping while still maintaining your monthly, weekly and/or daily expenses.  If you do not have a plan with regard to a budget, you are most certain to spend money that you cannot afford to spend.   

The Intrusion of Black Friday

It appears that retailers are dead set on impacting the family structure this year.  Black Friday is actually starting about six hours earlier this year.  Well I guess that is another story for another time in another setting.  Nonetheless, here are three tips on how to protect yourself and your family financially on Black Friday:

Stay home enjoy family and look forward to Cyber Monday.

Enjoy your family on Thanksgiving Day, don’t eat and run so you can get in line at your favorite retail store.  Part of the dynamic of the “savings” the retailers offer on Black Friday is simply a ploy for you to buy something else that you don’t need.  Safe yourself the headache and shop around on the Internet for the item you are looking for on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Here is a tip: with the state of the economy, the later you wait to more you will probably save. No need to rush.

If you must go into the stores on Black Friday, have a spending plan.

Before you get on line outside of the store have a plan. Ask yourself what am I going to buy and what price am I going to pay for it?  When you have a plan and stick to that plan then the retailers can’t offer you their credit card in order to get an additional percentage off the sale.

Walk in with a plan, stick to the plan and walk out of the retailer with what you planned to walk out with at the right price and nothing more.  No need to layaway what you have planned for. There is no need to finance the purchase you have planned for.  There is no need to spend more than you planned.

Remember you’re on a budget

What is your budget for the Christmas shopping season which starts in a little over 24 hours?  If you don’t have a budget then you don’t have a plan and the only thing that can happen is an unwise move.  Most people can’t afford another unwise financial move this year.  Create your budget today before tomorrow comes and you aren’t prepared.

Let me know how this information has impacted you, whether positively or negatively. I’d like to hear from you. Send your responses to

A Great Christmas Gift

With Black Friday quickly approaching, I think this post is timely. The market awaits customers to bombard stores and spend money on retail items this Christmas. Many stores depend on Christmas spending because it could make a big difference on the way their financial statements look.

Don’t worry retailers. My purpose is not to advise consumers not to spend. However, I am asking that we all assess the value of our gifts. My wife and I stopped giving gifts that were of little to no value to the youth in our family. One year we purchased stock for each of our godchildren. We did this because we were trying to impart a different type of thinking in the minds of our godchildren. We need our youth to think long term.

How about this year, in addition to the new video game, doll or toy we buy our kids, we add something of long term value, too? Maybe we should purchase a few shares of stock, prices are low. Maybe it will be some thing else, but lets think long term for our children under 18.