The time between Halloween and New Year is often dreaded by many, and this is mostly due to cost. The average American usually ends the year several hundred dollars in credit card debt. But the holidays can still be a great time for everyone without overindulging. Here are some tips to make sure you are at least financially healthy after New Years.
Think about everyone who you need to give a gift to and estimate a price limit, even if you have no particular gift in mind. This process should be done as early into the holiday season, before Thanksgiving if possible. Add up your total (remember to include the periphery expenses such as wrapping paper and postage) and see if this fits into your budget. If this total is more than you can afford there are several options open to you –
- Set lower gift amounts for each person/specific people
- Cut people from your list (this doesn’t need to be as heartless as it sounds, for example can you arrange Secret Santa for certain groups of people)
- Make other arrangements (for example grandparents often would much rather spent time with you than receive anything physical)
Set Spending Limits before Going Shopping
Don’t be tempted to buy more luxurious items than needed while out shopping. This is hard at the best of times, but is especially hard around the festive season. If you find it difficult to stick to spending limits while at the mall try to do the bulk of your shopping online as this is great for –
- Comparing prices
- Doesn’t have the added expense of travel etc.
- Often extra voucher discounts are available
Watch out for delivery times and costs (finding free delivery is not too much of a chore), and beware of ‘gift wrap’ options, as these can be unexpectedly pricey.
Remember your long term Financial Goals
The excitement of the festive season can cloud your judgment to the longer term, but keep your financial goals in mind. Your children’s future education is so much more important than the perfect gift right now. Write down your goals, this is a clique but writing things down do make them seem more real and achievable. Displaying them somewhere where you can see them everyday can help too, such as on the fridge or mirror.
Don’t Stop Saving
Don’t stop you’re regular saving routine just because of the holidays, try to budget around it. If saving is a problem for you, try to make a greater saving commitment your New Year’s resolution. Possibly also think about how to save for next year, say with a special bank account that you put a certain percentage every month in to budget easily for next year’s spending.
The holiday season can be a time to really get creative; hand-made gifts are often more cherished by those who received them than anything pricey. But even if you are not of the artistic persuasion, there are many ways to give a creative spending boost to the holiday season. For example, think outside the box with where you usually shop and see if what you’re looking for is cheaper elsewhere, especially online. Perfume is often a great gift, but prices can vary widely for the same brand and scent. Also think about some of these options –
- Photo gifts – personal and inexpensive
- Food gifts – fun to make and always well received
- Personalised cheques – make a Christmas chequebook full of free things you’ll loved ones will enjoy; such as babysitting, massages or hugs.
Try this roundup for many more creative ways to save money during the holiday season.
If you need to borrow over the festive season, do it wisely. Get credit card with a 0% rate (but watch out for when the 0% ends as the usual rates are often higher), or find a credit card with a cash back reward. In fact, even if you don’t need to borrow using a credit card with a reward scheme can pay dividends if you use it for all your holiday purchases.
Be Truly Thankful
Remember what the holidays are really for, whatever you believe in. Gratitude does wonders for your physical as well as mental health; it lowers blood pressure and can reduce anxiety among many other things. Talk to your family and friends about what they would really want as a gift, the majority of the answers will probably surprise you, leading to a much more serene and economical holiday season. The holidays don’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable; relaxing and being with family and friends is completely free.