With a little creativity and planning, you could come up with $400 for holiday gift spending. I'll show you how one woman pulled that off.
The sounds of Christmas will be upon us before we know it. It's only September, but Elizabeth May of San Mateo is already thinking green to stay out of the red.
"I wasn't willing to go into debt," said May.
She sets a budget early. May scours the malls throughout the year for bargains and most importantly, she saves.
"I set aside money not only for gift budgets, but a lot of side budgets every month, automatically. I count it as a regular expense," said May.
That's really sound advice Andrea Woorach is a consumer expert. She said, "You can really rack up enough money for a few different gifts without feeling you have to put on your credit card."
Just like May, Woorach suggests to start putting away money. Even if you begin today setting aside as little as $10 a week, you'll have at least $120 before your Christmas credit card bill arrives. Rummage through your home for clothes you no longer wear or gifts you never used.
"I post them to my eBay account. Last year I earned up to $175 I believe it was," said Woorach.
Look at the reward points you've accumulated on your credit card and consider redeeming them for gift cards.
"I did that last year as well and was able to redeem credit card points for a $50 gift card, American Express gift card and a $50 gift car to Amazon.com," said Woorach.
Total savings -- $395. Once you know how much you want to spend, stick to it. May knows that's easier said than done. She said, "No matter what budget I set, I always go over a little bit so I plan on the fact that whatever I do estimate, it's going to go over." She looks for creative ways to share the holiday spirit. "I've definitely been known to give really nice cookies for the holidays and tins, other creative ideas like that. Trading meals with people. I used to be a business owner, so I trade services as well."
The key is to reduce the stress and make the holidays a fun experience. Woorach predicts retailers will be offering big promotions throughout the season, so keep your eyes open.
Now here's a warning for you? you could be buying counterfeit designer brands without knowing it. Tonight on ABC7 News at 11 p.m. I'll be here to show you how to spot the fakes.