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Buy Hot Toys Early This Holiday Season

With the country still in recession this promises to be an interesting shopping season for people who are planning to buy this year’s hot toys for their children. The best idea would be to buy gifts early to make sure you get the gifts your children are wanting this holiday season. The potential problem with finding the hot toys may come from the toy manufacturers this year.

The recession has made everyone who works in retail nervous for the upcoming season. Even with following past history of trends in shopping during different economical models, there is no way to predict how consumers will spend their money this holiday season. The big decision that toy manufacturers had to make was whether to gamble and make toys hoping that they would sell or play it safe and possibly not have enough toys available to meet the demand.

History has shown us that if there is a shortage of a certain type of toy, the real winners are the people who had the foresight to buy the toys and turn around to sell them online for a huge profit. When it comes to children and Christmas, parents will pay more than they retail price to get the perfect toy for their child.

Toy manufacturers can only guess where people will spend their Christmas club checks and bonuses. If they guess wrong they will lose out on potential profits and parents won’t be able to find the toys that they need for the children in their lives.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends should consider doing their holiday gift shopping early if there are specific toys they know they are going to need to buy. The options are fairly limited:
• Buy the toy early and possibly at full price to guarantee that you have it
• Wait until closer to the holidays and risk the toy not being available
• Buy the toy from an auction site for more than retail because the toy is sold out everywhere

It is possible that there may be plenty of the toys available when they start to go on sale and finding them won’t be an issue. It will be up to the individual if they want to risk waiting for the best price.

Adults are far more likely to understand the true meaning of the holidays and the concept of supply and demand. Children are more interested in having fun toys to play with during and after the holidays. This will not be a normal holiday season for retail but it is too soon to tell if there will be enough supply to meet the demand.

Restore the Christmas Spirit Using Budgeting and Money Tips

Are you starting to get a little nervous about the Christmas holiday coming up and running short on cash for all the expenses? You can avoid the stress by doing a bit of planning and have a fantastic Christmas holiday! Even if you’re a bit short on the green stuff, you can still have fun and spend money, prudently rather than foolishly, and all without a credit card.

Don’t get caught in the credit card trap! If you spend $1000 on Christmas expenses this year at 18 percent annual percentage rate (APR), and you pay the minimum payment of 4 percent due each month, it will take you YEARS to pay-off the credit card.

To avoid the pre-Christmas budgeting depression and post-Christmas credit card bill surprises, start planning now by following this simple financial roadmap. Understanding what you have, drawing up an all-inclusive list of needs and wants, shopping for bargains early, avoiding credit cards, and tracking each item will keep you focused on positive cash flow – and that can increase your Christmas spirit!

1. Determine how much cash you can spend

If you’re on a budget or spending plan, then you probably know already how much you can afford to spend on the Christmas holiday and have budgeted for it all year long, a little bit at a time. If not, it’s time to figure it out now so you can avoid paying on your credit card for months or years to come.

To get started, make sure you know what income is coming in. Calculate your net income from now until Christmas and subtract out all the regular debt, expenses and discretionary spending. Hopefully you have a surplus so that you can adequately enjoy the holiday season and move on to step #2.

If you don’t have a surplus, then you’re already spending more than you make and extra cash for Christmas season will have to come from new sources such as a serious cut back on your discretionary spending, selling some unwanted items, or perhaps a temporary part time job to generate some income for Christmas expenses. Many establishments hire part time help for the holidays.

2. Make your list and stick to it!

Include everything on your list such as charitable giving, gifts, decorations, entertainment, extra food and drink, travel, clothing, greeting cards, postage and wrapping paper and accessories.

Your list should include people you want to buy gifts for including family, friends, mentors, teachers, service providers, employees, colleagues at work, etc. Determine who is getting what, the amount you’ll spend, or whether it’s a “card-only” situation.

For those you are buying gifts for, and If your cash budget is tight, then be very realistic with the dollar amounts. Tell your children early on there’s a limit this year on quantity and size of gifts. Opt for quality time and new family Christmas traditions instead of expensive gift giving. There’s nothing wrong with living within your means and buying less expensive gifts. It’s very chic these days!

3. Start shopping early and shop smart

There’s never been more opportunities to save money. Shopping online has exploded with coupons, groupons, and “push” email alerts from major stores to let you know in advance what is going on sale and when. Take advantage of these offers! Sign up early for email alerts and check daily for new deals. Many stores offer free shipping too!

Keep your emotions outside the store. Shop with a mission to complete your list and nothing more. Don’t get sucked in my sales signs if those items are not on your list. Take your list with you and use it to control what you’re buying and how much you can spend for each item.

4. Use a daily tracker so you don’t exceed your plan

Keep track of everything you spend! Write each purchase down on a separate piece of paper summarizing what you’ve spent that day. Add up the amounts at the end of each week. Don’t wait for the debit card statements to arrive. It will be too late if you overspent!

Monitor the spending each week against your master list and check off the items paid for. Estimate what cash is needed for the remaining items. Make any adjustments necessary to stay on track with your plan.

5. Remember it’s Christmas and it’s not about us, the gifts, or the spending!

Doing something good for someone can really inspire you during the Christmas holidays. Maybe it’s a friend or family member who is ill that you spend time with. Working a soup kitchen, delivering Thanksgiving baskets, or volunteering for a charitable fund raiser are all great things to do and will take your mind off budgeting and spending for awhile.

Playing a new game with children or reading stories together can mean the world to a child. Writing out the Christmas cards together will help inform your children of who their long lost relatives are. Talk about the old days of what you did with them during Christmas when you were a child. It was probably a lot different than today!

Getting back to the basics of what the holiday season is all about by creating memories with your loved ones could reap years of benefit in your relationship and help restore the Christmas inspiration.

Christmas Shopping 4 Tips For Buying Christmas Gifts

4 Tips For Buying Christmas Gifts

With the holiday season around the corner, it makes sense to beat the mall crowds and clearance sale gimmicks of big departmental stores by putting some mother wit to work…read on to find out 4 tips for buying Christmas Gifts with none of the hassles of festive shopping!!

I love everything that builds up to the cozy, warm and snuggle bug feeling of baking, writing out Christmas cards and making Christmas shopping lists. But, that’s where all the enthusiasm sort of fizzles out because with the marketing build up around Christmas and the shopping mania it sets off in even regular folks, the local markets seem like they are just a short call away from being tagged a mad house!

So, in order to enjoy my Christmas season more, I worked out a few tricks to finish off with festive shopping earlier in the year instead of leaving it for season sales, festive discounts and trying to sweet talk friends or relatives to accompany me for the fun hobby it should be, but somehow turns into a nightmare for many people. Especially those that dread the mall crowds, mad dash for same items by other equally flustered shoppers and the sore feet!

Yes, you guessed right! I decided to shop smart and do it online!

Tip # 1 – Search for online discount deals and buy your gifts from a web store that lets you save on shipping! I reserved the first half of my Sunday for clicking a shopper’s symphony on my laptop keys, choosing non-China free worldwide shipping items from a reputed site, called Dinodirect.com

On clicking around the site, I found to my delight there were fabulous discount offers – 50% off – and free shipping worldwide! That had me quickly cover small somethings for friends and family I haven’t been able to gift even a Christmas card to in recent years and ensure these would reach in time, be within my budget and range across so many precious and practical things, like decor accents, electronic accessories, iPad covers, stationery, garments and lots more cool Christmas gifts I’d never have thought of as traditional presents!!

Tip # 2 – Buy locally produced products and show your support for local artists while ensuring budget Christmas shopping! You don’t have to spent the entire day hunting for sales and low traffic hours at boutique shops or fancy shopping malls if you decide to shop smart and go local with your Christmas gifts. Check out NGO, charities and folk art centers besides local food craft organizations like women’s help groups or Church fetes for neat home-made Christmas gifts with a personal touch!

Tip # 3 – Choose Christmas gifts handmade with love – hands being those of a professional crafter’s and the love being yours – and shop at Etsy.com You can pick up a lot of cool and quality stuff made by crafty people who showcase their hobby crafting products, like bags, jewelry, book covers, hand made paper products, candles, soaps, woollies, cake mixes, gourmet food and even wood crafts at this hip online site. The new shops and those without a sale yet, in addition to original and funky items listed under the Editor’s pick segment usually offer good deals, so do check these out!

Tip # 4 – Donate your time to a local event, group or charity. This last truly exemplifies the spirit of Christmas giving as quality time is something that our loved ones never get enough of. If you can pay personal visits to friends, family or colleagues living in the same city and make a gift of ‘one hour specials’ for helping them with various chores, like ‘picking up groceries,’ ‘helping clean garage’ or ‘babysitting’ it would be appreciated and be something different from the routine Christmas gifting. Now, if you can go one step further and give some of your time to strangers in an old-people’s home, playschool volunteer activity, youth group or fund raisers, that would really revive the Christmas gifting spirit in a real sense.

Why not try out some of these tips and see a different feeling wrap your Christmas mood this year? I’d love to hear from you which Christmas shopping tip you liked the best!