Give Yourself the Gift of EXTRA CASH During the Holidays

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Colossal Christmas Countdown ButtonWe know, we know...the holidays are about enjoying time with family and loved ones.  But there's so much to do and spend.  Rather than making this season a time of stress, scrambling and overspending, follow this plan to keep your happiness sky-high and your budget low.
  1. Create a schedule: It's never too early to plan your shopping, says organizing guru Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life.  "Right now, put five dedicated shopping trips on your calendar over the next two months for holiday meals, gift and gatherings you plan to host."
  2. Set your budget - NOW: Figure out how much money you can comfortably imagine disappearing from your savings on January 1, says financial expert Jean Chatzky.  Plan how you'll have that amount in your checking account when the bills come in.  "If you have eight weeks until the holidays and an $800 budget, move $100 into savings every week so it'll be there to pay the bills," she says.
  3. Allocate your budget: What would make you happiest this year?  Hosting a wonderful holiday gathering?  Giving great presents?  Going all-out on the menus?  Divide cash accordingly.
  4. Make your lists: Figure out gifts and groceries.  "Plan your meal and party menus far in advance," says Morgenstern.  Once you know the menu, knocking out a shopping list is a breeze.

3 Things You Shouldn't Spend a Dime On

  1. Wrapping Paper: Save incoming wrapping paper, and have kids make drawings on plain paper to use.  Family will love it!
  2. Present Mailing: With your early shopping schedule in action, you'll have plenty of time to hand out gifts as you see friends and family.  Out-of-towner gifts should be purchased online if possible, with free shipping and no sales tax.
  3. Cell Phone Overcharges: Face it, at holiday time we all feel a need to connect with friends and family, so you may well go over your minutes this month.  If you don't already have an unlimited plan, buy a phone card now at any convenience store.
{This post is an excerpt from "Give. Gather. Make. Treat. Enjoy. Your Guide to the Holidays on a Budget" by Arianne Cohen as published in Woman's Day magazine}
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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