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Friday, August 7, 2009

Dave Ramsey Article...

Christmas is A-Comin'
Christmas Shopping Survival
by Dave Ramsey

First, the basics: you must have a plan. Before you even step foot into a store, you need to have a Christmas budget. Write down the name of everyone you plan to buy a gift for and how much you plan to spend on each of them. Total it at the bottom. This is your holiday budget. Get a game plan for your shopping so you can keep some money. There is no excuse for financing Christmas.

How big your budget is depends on your current money situation and how much you saved for the holidays during the year. Now, go to the bank, and cash a check for exactly how much you'll spend on gifts-no more-and put it in your Christmas envelope. You're ready to go!
You must learn to negotiate everything. If one store has an item you want for one price, but you'd rather buy it at another store, take proof of the cheaper store's price to your preferred store and ask if they'll sell it to you for the better price. Make sure they know that while you'd rather buy from them you are prepared to buy at the other store. Unless they want to lose your business they'll deal.

Use the power of cash. If you walk into an electronics store waving cash, store employees get silly. There is something highly emotional about flashing cash when making a purchase. People react to the security of cash. If the high school kid behind the register won't deal, ask for the manager. His store has a quota to meet, and dealing with you while you're holding cash will help him get there. Again, be prepared to walk away. If that store won't deal go to the next one.
For people who want to get control of their financial lives, the days of impulse buying are over, and the days of negotiation are here for good.

Deals are like buried treasure; you've got to hunt for the really good ones. But even if you don't get a deal on everything, don't go over your budget. Buy cheaper gifts if you have to or get creative; your friends and family know you love them, and in any case youÕre the one who will have to live with less cash. Don't buy gifts for yourself either! We Americans can be selfish and think that we should buy ourselves something at every store. This is the season to give not to receive...from yourself. Staying within limits and paying cash are crucial to a stress free holiday season without the dread of the January bills.

And don't forget, Christmas is in December every year—don't let it sneak up on you. Start planning in February by putting a little bit aside each month to cover the cost of gifts. If you begin earlier or even do your shopping throughout the year, you'll have a lot of opportunities to buy more presents for less cash.

Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, an extremely popular national radio personality and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace and More Than Enough. He is also host of "The Dave Ramsey Show" on the Fox Business Network.

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