Monday, September 29, 2008

Common Holiday Budget Busters has an interesting article on some common budget busters. A common theme among a lot of these traps they spoke about is a lack of planning. If you start now, you can avoid making a lot of these mistakes out of a lack of time and sheer frustration.

In addition to their list I would add a few of my own:
  1. Gift-Giving for the wrong reason. Are you giving a gift to impress the recipient or is it something that you really want them to have and you really feel that they would appreciate and enjoy? Are you spending money you don't have to impress people you don't like? Are you giving out of obligation?
  2. Trying to support too many worthy causes. Each year around the holidays there will be numerous charities, worthy causes, those in need whom you can contribute to. I have a weakness for the kids and need and giving trees, and I am a firm believer in sharing the wealth. However, when money is tight, you really haveto plan which causes you will support this year, otherwise you will not be prepared to say no when someone approaches you with yet another cause to support.
  3. Trying to buy "enough". I made this mistake so many times with my kids. I would get my Christmas shopping done ahead of time. Then around 2 or 3 days before Christmas, I would wonder "Did I buy little Johnny enough stuff?" or "Johnny has 4 things under the tree, Suzy only has 3", and off I would go running out that the last minute to get Suzy that last gift. Don't do this, make your list and stick to it.
  4. Not making a budget. Again, this is a failure to plan.

Here is Bankrate's list, click here to go to their site to read the whole story.

1. Don't make a list
2. Act like Santa Claus
3. Go overboard with gift cards
4. Grab the first thing you see
5. Wait until the spirit moves you
6. Put it on plastic
7. Buy now, pay later

Pros and Cons of Giving Gift Cards

Personally, I love gift cards. I love giving them, and I love receiving them. But there are some things to consider when deciding whether or not it is the right gift for the occasion or individual you are giving it to.

Here are some pros and cons.

  • They are excellent for last-minute gifts.
  • Some of the easiest, fastest shopping you will ever do.
  • You can buy them just about everywhere. You can even buy restaurant and retail gift cards at grocery stores and convenience stores.
  • Most people will like it.
  • Most people can use it.
  • It's a great gift for the picky person or person who has everything.
  • One size fits most, one stop shopping is definitely doable.
  • Recipient has a choice in the gift, and will probably be more satisfied
  • No guessing about sizes, colors, whether the recipient already has one, etc.
  • No need for the recipient to make a return
  • They are easily regiftable, if necessary.
  • They don't take up much space - the recipient doesn't have to find a place to store it.
  • No wrapping required.
  • Easy (and cheap) to ship.


  • The recipient knows exactly how much you spent on the gift (in most cases).
  • Can make for an expensive holiday if you are buying for a lot of people.
  • There is a risk that the merchant can go out of business before the card is used.
  • If it is a store gift card, the recipient is limited to purchasing from that store.
  • A lot of people forget to use them.
  • Some people think gift cards are impersonal (not many I know, but so I've heard)
  • They are nonrefundable.
  • Some of them lose value over time, if not used within certain time periods.
  • Bank and credit card gift cards usually have activation, usage and/or maintenance fees. (However most retailer gift cards do not.)

What stores still offer layaways

It's hard to find stores that still offer layaway plans but here are some retailers that still offer them. I've included links to their web sites pages that describe their plans, where I've found that information available.

You may also want to try these on-line retailers:

Know of any more not listed here? Please share the wealth, don't keep it to yourself! Leave a comment. Thanks.