When it comes to holiday shopping, the thrill might be in the hunt, but when the calendar hits January and there are bills to be paid, many folks quickly slide into a debt-induced depression.
To stay on top of your budget this season, Us Weekly sought out Savings.com Deal Pros -- and cocreators of FabAndFru.com -- Stephanie Berenbaum and Brandi Savitt, to suggest unconventional ways to save money and still feel festive.
When outlining your holiday shopping list this year, Berenbaum and Savitt advocate getting the kids involved to teach them about money -- and about the importance of giving back! Our experts suggest having kids as young as kindergarden age decorate a "Holiday Gift Donation" savings bank and deposit into it daily, remembering that it's much more fun to deposit 10 dimes instead of one dollar.
Later, take that saved money and purchase a gift for a child in need, letting your own child hand over their money at the register. "No amount of talking can have the impact of your child experiencing the reward of saving and giving for themselves," say our experts. "This lesson will by far be the biggest gift you give your own child this year."
If you're hosting a holiday party, Berenbaum and Savitt are big fans of the one drink rule. No, that doesn't mean partygoers can have just one drink, but rather that one signature cocktail is served at the event. It's best to opt for a drink that can be served with alcohol or without, say our Deal Pros, who love spiced cider. "The very notion of a signature cocktail instantly fancies up your event in a very frugal way!" they tell Us.
After the holidays, if you're in a panic going over receipts, our Deal Pros have a suggestion to get out of the red. "Don't take the tags off the gifts you receive, and keep all gift receipts well organized," Berenbaum and Savitt tell Us. "If you can't control your spending for others, you're going to have to use the gifts given to you as currency to make up for your cash shortfall. Which means other than truly sentimental gifts, we suggest returning and exchanging what you can for necessities you would otherwise go into debt to afford."
"We don't care if your aunt fought the crowds to get you the latest Missoni masterpiece from Target; you're going to have to consider trading in your loot for true essentials if you are in debt after the holidays!" they continue. "Think about that before you spend -- because nobody wants to trade in the Missoni for toilet paper!"
WIN IT! For your chance to nab a $100 Amazon.com gift card to help afford those must-have gifts and party planning essentials, email your name, address, daytime phone number and age (must be over 21) to Giveaways@usmagazine.com. You must put 'Holiday Budget Essentials' in the subject line of your email in order to be eligible. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, November 28. Click here for official rules.