Holiday spending can create stress in multiple areas of your life. Do you vow every year to prepare yourself better next year to handle the impact of holiday spending? If it seems you work all year just to get through the holiday season, you may want to take some extra steps to control holiday spending. Don’t get yourself wrapped up in the stress of holiday spending. Follow these tips to make this holiday easier on your mind and your wallet.
1. Set a Total Holiday Spending Limit
One of the biggest problems most families face is that they turn to their credit cards to handle the expenses of the holidays. Before you do that, you should set limits that come close to what you can afford to pay out of your pocket for the holidays. Credit cards should really be reserved for emergencies. Have a family meeting to determine what you can comfortably afford to spend this holiday.
You should never take the money you need for bills and use it for gifts. If you want to spend a little more than what your budget allows, identify areas in your current budget that you can redirect to holiday spending. Cut back on your cable bill or sacrifice your morning Starbucks run. You should never spend your rent money to make the loved ones in your life happy with gifts during the holidays. Once you set a limit, stick to it!
2. Write Out Your Gift Giving List
Just because Santa buys everyone presents, doesn’t mean you need to buy for everyone. And, just because you bought presents for a close friend last year, doesn’t mean you need to buy for them this year, especially if your relationship has changed. Create your own list just like Santa does. How many people does it include outside of your immediate family? Cut down your list where you can. If you still feel you need to give gifts to a long list of people, find a way to save some money on your giving. Bake cookies, create fun DIY gifts, find other ways to spread holiday cheer outside of breaking the bank.
3. Create a Budget that Reflects Your Home Finances
Life changes in an instant, especially when it comes to finances. If you are in a different place financially than you have been in years past, don’t feel bad! It happens! Don’t base your gift giving on the budget of those who give you gifts. Your older brother may be in a much different financial place than you are, and you shouldn’t try to keep up with him. Think about the friends and family in your life. Have there been times when their gift giving was different year-to-year? Chances are you can think of quite a few. Don’t feel bad if you can’ afford to buy the latest and greatest gifts for everyone on your list. You should feel worse to put yourself and your family in debt just to give gifts. Analyze your home budget and determine what best fits within your means.
4. Become a Coupon Cutter
Even if coupon cutting is not your think, there are so many opportunities to catch a great sale during the holiday. Don’t just stop at the sales. You can find additional coupons by doing a quick Google search online. Before you do an online checkout, or before you head out to a store to shop, search for these coupons. Compare sales and coupons from competing stores. You would be surprised how much you can save when you do a little extra research. From $10 to $100, you can grab huge savings by being aware of what’s out there!
5. Give Gifts that Don’t Cost Anything
One of the best gifts you can give is your time. Believe it or not, there are probably quite a few people on your list who would rather spend time with you then get a gift from you. Take the long-drive to your sister’s house that you normally avoid. Grab a cup of coffee as you get close and give her a new coffee mug. Let the kids take a day off of school where you give them your undivided attention. Sometimes, giving your time to the ones you love is much better than anything you can buy in the store.
6. Give Personalized Gifts
Small gifts that require a great deal of thought are much nicer than expensive gifts that anyone can buy in the store. Try to avoid impulse buys. Trendy department stores have expensive gifts that may be appealing to the eye, but is the person receiving it really going to use it?
7. Opt for Different Types of Holiday Parties
Holiday parties can take a huge chunk out of your budget, especially if you have a hand in funding them. Plus, holiday parties can come with a bunch of extra expense for everyone. From costs of Secret Santa to the extra dinner or bar bill, forego the traditional holiday party this year. You will be amazed at how many of your co-workers are relieved to not have to go to the annual office holiday party. Sign up for a group volunteer day instead. You will be helping others, getting some time out of the office, and will probably benefit from some great team building, as well. Everyone benefits from volunteering!
While holiday spending is a common cause of stress, you can easily identify changes that can reduce stress. It’s easier than you may think to reel in your finances just in time for the holidays each year. Don’t drive yourself into debt with holiday spending. Follow these simple changes and you and your entire family will find more joy this holiday season. You’ve got nothing to lose, and so much to save!