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Five Protective Words for the Holiday Season

The holidays have a reputation for being a joyful and stressful time. Typically, a big part of that stress surrounds time-honored practices of gift giving and holiday entertaining. There are many layers to this stress (what to get, who to invite, the crowds, getting it all done, etc.) and of course, all of these things cost money. However, as you head out to do your holiday shopping and plan your holiday entertainment, these five words can serve as your personal financial power tool: How much does it cost?

Here's an example of when to use these five words when shopping:

We say this from personal experience. Sharon went to the store the other day to buy a sweater. After selecting a sweater, the salesperson brought over a jacket and said, "Try this on." Sharon asked, "How much does it cost?" The salesperson ignored her question and repeated, "Just try it on." Committed to staying on her budget, Sharon asked again, "But how much does it cost?" The salesperson dismissed her query by responding that the item was on sale. Finally, Sharon looked the women right in the eye and said, "Look, I'm asking you how much does it cost?" The woman finally went to scan the item to find out its price. Turns out, the jacket was indeed out of her budget so Sharon didn?t bother to try it on.

Don't be afraid to ask prices at restaurants:
Manisha was in a restaurant and the waiter asked if she would like to hear the specials. Manisha said yes, and the waiter proceeded to rattle off a list of mouth-watering dishes. One of them was the fish of the day, and it sure sounded delicious. But times are tough, fish is often expensive, and Manisha is watching her budget as well. So she asked, "How much does it cost?" The waiter stared back at her with a bewildered look. After a long, awkward pause he finally admitted, "Gosh, I don't know. Let me go find out." He returned with the price, and it was 50 percent more than the regular entrees. Manisha didn't order it.

This holiday season, we encourage you to keep these five protective words in your pocket as you go out shopping, eating, or otherwise having fun: How much does it cost? In years past people would feel embarrassed to ask such a question. There was an unspoken attitude of "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." It was exactly that kind of thinking that helped get us in this financial mess to begin with. In the absence of full information, many people found themselves spending more on all sorts of things. So this holiday season, as we all struggle with how to spread the cheer while keeping our financial heads above water, we encourage you to ask the question. Ask it loudly and proudly. You'll do not only yourself, but your finances favor. The more open and honest dialogue we all have on this subject, the better. Be bold, speak up and save yourself a few bucks!

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