The holidays are a time for parties and gift-giving, as well as travel or hosting out-of-town family and friends. It feels good to find the perfect gift for each loved one or to put out a gorgeous spread for a holiday party, however, increasing credit card balances can be in the back of your head, causing you constant stress during the season that should be joyful. The good news is that the holidays don’t have to be stressful if you follow some simple tips for holiday spending.
Set an Overall Limit
Before the holiday season begins, take a close and honest look at your financial situation. Decide a reasonable amount you can afford to dedicate to holiday spending, including all food, travel, gifts, and family outings. Account for all of your bills and regular expenses first, then determine how much cash you’ll have left over, without dipping into savings or using credit cards. Then, make sure you stick to your limit and don’t cave in when you see the perfect gift that will break your budget.
Decide Who Gets a Gift
While you will want to get presents for your immediate family, you shouldn’t be expected to buy something for everyone you’ve ever known. Make an agreement with your friends that you will spend quality time together instead of buying presents. If you do feel the need to give something, make a big batch of cookies and give each person a dozen. Homemade gifts that come from the heart mean more than buying someone an expensive candle or lotion they may never use.
Don’t Try to Keep Up with the Joneses
Your older sister and her husband always splurge and get everyone in the family fancy presents. However, they have little debt, high incomes, and no children. You, on the other hand, are still working on paying your student loans while saving for college for your own two kids. If you are in a different financial situation than others, don’t feel the need to compete or keep up. Give gifts that you can afford, and the people you love will surely understand and appreciate your generosity.
Look for Deals
While it’s always easier to purchase things when you first find them, it can cost you unnecessary money. Do your research and see whether there is a deal or sale on the item online or if you can get it cheaper at another store. Also, look for coupons for food for holiday meals or baking days. You can be surprised how much you can save if you take some extra time when purchasing gifts.
Reduce Your Regular Spending
If each month, you give yourself a certain amount for groceries and other expenses, see if you can reduce this regular spending to allow for holiday spending. Maybe cut out meals you would usually eat out and bring your lunch to work or cook at home during the holiday season. Even saving $20 per weekday for a month can result in $400 available for holiday spending! Once you get used to less spending, you can continue the new habits after the holidays and put the money you’re not spending into savings or toward your debts.
Put More Thought - and Less Money - Into Your Gifts
While it’s easy to go buy an expensive piece of jewelry or electronics for members of your family, consider that people also love something that was picked out or made especially for them - no matter how big or small the gift may be. Take time to really think what each person on your list could use and love, and you may be surprised how a thoughtful $20 gift will delight someone more than a generic $100 gift. Handmade gifts are also always a good idea and are always appreciated by the recipients.
Instead of Throwing a Holiday Party - Organize an Outing
Throwing a holiday party can be expensive. Between the food, drinks, and decor, the costs can add up fast. Deciding to take a year off from your annual party doesn’t mean you don’t get to spend time with your friends and family, however. You can always organize an outing with everyone to see holiday lights, a warm-hearted movie, or even to volunteer. These outings will give you the chance to get together without putting the cost of a party on you.
While the above tips will certainly not solve all financial problems, they can help reduce financial stress during - and after - the holidays. Memories of the season will be sweeter without the dread of credit card bills and diminished savings accounts.
Discuss Debt Concerns with a Minnesota Bankruptcy Lawyer Today
If you start the New Year facing debts you cannot pay, do not hesitate to discuss your options with the Minnesota bankruptcy attorneys at Kain & Scott. Call us at 800-551-3292 or contact us online for a free discussion today.