One of the fastest ways people get overwhelmed during the holidays is by overspending. Being financially unprepared for the holiday season leads to bad habits and poor choices that have serious repercussions at the beginning of the new year.
Holiday spending is more than buying gifts, it’s usually a bunch of small things that add up. Things like-
- Extra activities
- Extra giving/donations
Money leaking out here and there for expenses you don’t have any other time of year adds up and can cause debt or overspending. Stress starts building up with each purchase and what should be a fun time of year starts to feel overwhelming.
You don’t have to overspend or go into debt trying to make the holidays magical. Pay attention to these dos and don’ts to help keep your financial health during the holidays.
Create a holiday budget before the holidays start
Every year is different. Some years there are more resources for the holidays and some years are lean. Making a budget before the holidays based on your current financial situation. Keep to your budget to help prevent overspending.
Find fun and unique ways to make some extra cash
Host an annual yard sale or offer a side hustle that brings in some extra cash each year. Finding fun ways to make more money helps you cover the extra costs you have during the holiday season. Enlist the family and encourage them to earn some extra cash that they can use for buying gifts or personal items during the season.
Cherry pick your holiday must-haves before spending
There are unlimited ways to spend during the holidays. Everything associated with the holidays is bright and shiny and can make impulse buying hard to avoid.
Be decisive about what matters most to you during the season and focus your attention and your dollars on those items and activities and leave the rest for someone else to enjoy.
Worry about what other people do
It’s an age-old concept but still rings true. You shouldn’t worry about what your neighbors are doing. You don’t need to keep up with anyone else nor be influenced by their spending. Focus on your family and what makes sense for your unique needs during the holidays.
Forget the benefits of getting ahead of the game
Procrastination can cause overspending. Don’t put off tasks like food shopping or other errands that dig into your budget. The earlier you take care of things the easier you can find deals and be more relaxed.
An example could be purchasing all of your non-perishable food items for all holiday meals in one early shopping trip. This gets the task out of the way and frees up time during the rest of the season,
Allow guilt to make you overspend
It’s hard to say no when you want to say yes. Financially, it may not be possible to do everything without going into debt or making a poor financial decision. Don’t allow guilt to drive you.
The holidays magnify certain feelings. Set healthy limits that keep your finances under control and don’t feel guilty for being smart with your money.
Spending can be at an all-time high during the holidays. There are a lot of expenses that come with celebrating which have the potential to strain your budget.
Here are some tips for reducing your giving without feeling like a Scrooge:
Being generous is important. There’s no greater time of year to give than during the holidays but it doesn’t take long for the list of opportunities to give to outgrow your ability to be generous. Sometimes you’ve simply got to cut back. This can leave you feeling guilty and fearful you’ll be perceived as a Scrooge.
There are plenty of great reasons to give and be generous, but your resources may not always be as big as your heart. What can you do when you need to reduce your giving without feeling horrible? Try these ideas out-
Try reducing your overall gift-giving budget. If you are in the habit of giving extravagant gifts, try reducing your price point per person to make the budget stretch. Lowering your spending per person can help you give more without cutting out the number of people you give to.
Give time rather than money. Giving gifts and making monetary donations comes out of your bank account. Why not give the gift of time instead. Create coupon books with vouchers for special time with friends and family.
You can postpone your spending until they cash in their coupons. Instead of making monetary donations to your favorite charities, consider doing some volunteer work throughout the year to offer an equally valuable resource.
Reassess your giving guidelines. Over time, you may find you are under pressure to give gifts to an ever-growing list of friends and family. Times change and it’s ok to assess and re-evaluate your giving guidelines.
Some fun gift-giving guidelines could include-
- Only buy gifts for kids under 16
- Doing a numbered gift exchange with adult family members
- Opting out of gift-giving outside of the immediate family
- Setting a spending cap on gifts
Once you’ve made the best decision for your family, rest assured that you can give confidently without feeling like a Scrooge.
Get crafty with your giving. Try making gifts that have low-cost investments. Body scrubs, décor, and other DIY items can cost pennies to make but their personal touch has great value. Search the web for fun do it yourself gifts you can make in bulk and give to lots of people.
Don’t let the holidays cost you your happiness, sanity, or more. Keep your spending in perspective and enjoy a happy and financially healthy season.
Christmas means something different to everyone who celebrates. There are no two families experiencing the holiday the same. You must feel confident setting limits and creating spending plans that make sense for you and your family’s finances. Be generous, but not to the point you face going into debt. Find fun ways to give without feeling stressed or like a Scrooge.