The holidays are not always filled with joy for many people. It can be a very busy, stressful and expensive time of year. It can be an especially overwhelming time for people who have been diligently trying to budget their money all year round. December rolls around and any money that you may have tried to save seems to disappear on gifts and numerous holiday related expenses!
According to Parent-Map.com, “For many families, holiday spending sets them back financially for months to follow if not longer. Credit cards make it easy to overspend leaving families to suffer the consequences later.” So how can you prepare for and handle this spending frenzy that we call the holiday season? Of course you can just say “Bah Humbug” and be done with it, but in most case you want to at least make it special for your family. Here are few things that you can do to make sure that you do not start the new year off in debt.
Create a Holiday Budget
Holiday spending is often not only limited to buying gifts. Make a list of all the things that you anticipate that you will spend money on like holiday cards, stamps, decorations, wrapping paper, food, baking supplies, holiday clothes, babysitters, etc. Once you have made a list of all your expenses, review it and decide where you can cut some costs.
Send Electronic Holiday Greetings!
If you can’t part with the idea of sending a holiday card – send an online electronic holiday card. Save money on cards, photos and postage. Sites like Hallmark Cards.com and CrossCards.com offer beautiful and creative electronic holiday cards that can be personalized. The best part is that they are absolutely free!
Plan Shopping Trips Ahead of Time
Plan your shopping trip before you leave the house. Make a list of what gifts you need to buy and how much you can spend on each purchase. Stick to the list!
Do Your Research
Do research online to find the best deals on those items on your shopping list. Take advantage of online sales and deals that offer discounts and free shipping. Scan the newspaper and fliers for coupons and sales in stores.
Cut Your List
If you continue to give gifts to extended family and friends – it may be time to stop. Chances are if you have a conversation about it, they may be just as relieved to forego the gift giving practice. If you still feel compelled to give, start a grab bag where everyone buys one gift and chooses a gift or draw names and purchase for only one individual.
Shop at Discount Stores
There are many discount stores that offer decent gifts at affordable prices. Stores like FiveBelow and DollarTree feature various holiday gift ideas as well as decorations, wrap and other holiday items at reduced prices.
If at all possible – use cash for all of your purchases. Leave credit cards at home when you go shopping to avoid impulse purchases. Many people spend far more than they plan on by purchasing unnecessary “bargains” they just can’t resist. It’s easy to buy something when you know you can just use your credit card.
This holiday season, plan ahead, stick to a budget and choose smart spending practices to make for a happy and affordable celebration!