The holidays are the most joyous time of the year for many people, but they can also be the cause of overwhelming stress. Financial stress associated with finances associated with holiday gifts, travel, and party hosting can take a toll on you. It may seem like the list of items to purchase is never ending, and the finances just can’t keep up. The great news is that there are ways to handle the holidays without all the added financial stress. Don’t let the holidays leave you in a deficit. Follow these tips for handling financial stress during the holidays and you will be surprised at how relaxed you feel this year!
Set a Budget
One of the most important ways to handle finances during the holidays is to set a budget and stick to it. If you are great at planning, you might be one of the lucky ones who puts aside a small amount of money every week for the entire year. Holiday clubs are a great way to save money all year and alleviate some of the money stresses. If you aren’t that great at planning or saving, evaluate your income and expenses. Set a dollar amount you are willing to spend on food, gifts, and travel expenses and budget accordingly.
Many people find that it helps to make a list. Write down all the items you need to buy and assign them each the dollar amount you are willing to spend. When it comes time to shop, be sure you have your list with you. Avoid the temptation to spend those extra few dollars. When you stick to a budget, you eliminate the risk of overspending.
Make a Shopping Plan
Impulse purchases are one of the leading causes of overspending during the holiday season. Companies set up beautiful displays that are designed to catch your eye. Their marketing strategy makes it difficult to resist the urge to grab that extra item while you are waiting in line. Whether you are headed out for your weekly grocery shopping or going to the mall to grab some gifts, stick to the list and avoid unnecessary items this holiday season.
Sales are another cause of overspending during the holidays. This is another consumer trick that businesses use to encourage those extra purchases. Businesses will mark down popular products making them somewhat irresistible to consumers. Another way to avoid overspending is to compare your list to the sales at your local stores. If you know you’ll save more at one store over the other, choose to focus on the most inexpensive option. You can still get all you need and want while remaining within your budget.
Stop Using Funds You Don’t Have
The best rule of thumb to avoid holiday financial stress is if you can’t afford it outright, don’t buy it. During the holiday season many consumers dip into their savings accounts, pull money from their 401 (k), and max out their credit cards. Purchases should not be made if you need to turn to resources for the money to make them. Don’t let the stress of holidays leave you heading to the bank for that extra loan.
The hardest part of resisting the urge to tap into the savings, or use your credit card, often involves your children or significant other. While you want to give the ones you love everything they wish for, it’s ok to say no. You would be surprised with how quickly children appreciate the presents they get rather than focusing on the ones they don’t. Going into debt every holiday season is far more difficult to overcome than skipping a few presents on the wish list.
Cut Expenses with Creative Gifts
Crafty gifts have become the trend these days as more and more people make handmade presents. You will benefit from spending a fraction of the cost and those you are gifting will find your efforts very sentimental. Even if you aren’t crafty, there are many ways to get creative with your gift giving. Offering to babysit for new parents, cooking your spouse’s favorite meal, or having a friend over for dinner and a movie are also great gifts that bring lots of holiday joy.
When all else fails, remember what the season is all about. While it’s easier to get wrapped up in the materialistic aspect of the holiday season, take a step back and reflect on what the holidays are all about. Enjoy time with your family and friends and get busy making memories. People are more likely to remember time spent making memories than what toy or gift certificate they got a few years ago. Give them the gift of precious memories to last a lifetime.
If you are tired of experiencing financial planning during the holiday season, there is a solution to your problem. When you make a plan and stick to it, you can get through the holidays without debt and with your savings intact. Breeze through the holidays without the financial stress and you will be bound to begin the new year on a good foot.