Steven Ciantro is a certified credit counselor, a management representative of American Debt Enders, and a former finalist in Inc. magazine and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year contest. He is also a Talk-Show Radio Host and successful published songwriter and musician (his album January Tyme can be heard on YouTube), the inventor of a patented medical device, a public speaker on debt issues, and the official debt expert for motivational speaker Gail Kasper’s Top 1% Club
The best way to save both money and stress during the holiday season is to plan early. Hopefully, if you are a regular reader of mine by now you are budgeting each month and have your finances under control. So, during this holiday season, make things easier on yourself. Your shopping list is probably similar each year. First things first: make a list. You don't have to know exactly what you are buying yet, but at least start with the names and the amounts you intend to spend.
Try to avoid credit cards as much as you can. The busiest season for credit counselors is from January through May and it has nothing to do with tax season, just overspending during the holidays. I actually received a call from a consumer who had spent over $18,000 on Christmas gifts, and her husband had no idea. Start saving now.
If you need someone to tell you it's okay not to go beyond what you can afford, I am telling you it is okay. This is very important. You don't have to put yourself in hock if you are barely making ends meet. Please remember, the holidays are about the spirit of giving not a contest about who can give the biggest gift.
Now, with all that in place you can start shopping. One great way to save is to shop garage sales and estate sales. At stores, shopping early will allow you to take advantage of sales.
By personalizing this plan, you will avoid being one of the stressed consumers calling a credit counselor for help in January.
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ABOUT STEVEN CIANTRO: Steven is well suited to advising on debt issues. Growing up from humble beginnings, he personally made a fortune from nothing in his earlier years and lost it. The experience completely altered his value system. It seemed every professional debt expert Steven and his wife spoke to wanted to put them into even more debt to help them. It took years for them to untangle the financial mess, which they ultimately did on their own, gaining a tremendous education in the process. However, the experience left Steven with chronic kidney disease, which he still battles today. In 2004, Steven found work at a national nonprofit credit counseling company. After six months, he became regional manager; Steven had found a new calling. He is in the unique position of not only being a true expert on debt relief issues, but also understanding firsthand how oppressive debt can be. In 2006, American Debt Enders was started as a company that would offer free credit counseling; it was among the first companies in the nation to use the business model of offering multiple debt relief programs and solutions under the same roof.
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.