With the holidays right around the corner, many of us spend hundreds and in some cases, thousands of dollars leading up to this festive time of year. These expenditures are not only a result of gifts purchased for family and friends—but include entertaining, food, decorations, traveling, and more!
If you love to celebrate the holidays but not the financial pinch you experience afterward, there are several ways for giving and celebrating without breaking the bank and running up your credit card debt.
Know your limit. Take some time to plan out your holiday spending needs before you head to the malls or begin shopping online. Gifts, large or small, can really add up in addition to entertaining, travel, and other related holiday expenses—leaving you with a hefty bill at the end of the season. You might even want to try using this free Holiday Budget Calculator to estimate how much you should plan to spend during the holidays to avoid unwelcome post-holiday debt.
Trim your list. Holiday shopping lists seem to spiral out of control over time. And just because you had a long gift list last year doesn’t mean you should repeat it this year. Maybe now is the time to revisit who you shop for. For example, do you really need to exchange gifts with everyone in your family? If not, then perhaps this is a good place to start. You might even consider giving a group gift to certain members of your family rather than individual gifts. In fact, you may find that other members of your family will love the idea!
Plan ahead. You’ve done your homework, created a budget, and now you’re ready to tackle the holiday crowds and your gift list. Here are a few tips to save on shopping—whether online or in the stores:
- Look for special “savings days” at your favorite retail stores.
- Use coupons from your newspaper, online retail, or brick and mortar store.
- Take advantage of free shipping whenever possible with online purchases.
- Consider purchasing gifts during the year—not just during the peak shopping and holiday season.
Reduce your stress. The holiday season is stressful enough with demands from family and friends, not to mention social commitments for work or other groups. So try to plan ahead as much as possible. Avoid last-minute purchases and shopping sprees that generally have a negative impact on your budget and make it difficult to pay off your holiday debt. If you have been hosting holiday parties at your home for family, rather than feeling obligated to host an event every year, you might want to suggest a rotation plan with other family members for future gatherings. Also, try to maintain your daily calming routines to help keep stress levels in check. If you usually take a walk or go to the gym every day, take the time to continue your scheduled activities during the hectic holiday months.
And lastly, enjoy the season. In the end, the holidays are all about enjoying friends and family. Spending quality time with loved ones and embracing the joys of the season can help you to keep stress in perspective. Moreover, being prudent and managing your time effectively will help usher in a New Year that begins on the right financial foot.
For more information about money and time management, visit http://www.about.com/money
to learn more.