It feels so good to give. You put a lot of thought into what you get for each name on your list. Yet, how much time do you put into making sure you spend within your means? This holiday season, take the time to plan and budget your gift giving to avoid swimming in a sea of credit card debt. Start making those holiday lists before it’s too late and you are Scrooged in a financial pinch. Here are some helpful tips to keep those Holiday bills from piling up:
Create a Budget
Figure out how much you can afford to spend this year and stay within your guideline. If you have an idea as to how much you can afford before you begin, you’ll make smarter choices when it comes to choosing the right gifts.
Categorize Your List
- How many people do you buy gifts for?
- How much can you reasonably spend on each individual?
- Include a travel category if you are traveling this season.
- Party hosting costs
- Figure in the hostess gifts for parties you plan on attending.
- Food, beverages and entertainment expenses for you and your family.
- Teacher and co-worker gifts
Now, add everything together and make sure they fit within your budget. Make adjustments where necessary.
Cash Feels Real; Swiping is Too Easy
There is something very sobering about whipping out a crisp $100 bill to pay for a purchase than just swiping the old credit card and signing your name. It’s good to put cash in several envelopes for different events, people, or specific purchases. Leave the house with a certain amount, and then when that money is gone, it’s time to stop for the day. Using cash is an easy way to slow down that shopping spree.
Watch for Deals
If you have a general idea what you’re buying each person, watch for those deals on Black Friday. Many retailers are offering big savings online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday and beyond, so keep an eye out for online exclusives, too. It’s also a good idea to browse the internet and use those smartphone apps like fatwallet.com to watch for those money-saving deals. Remember Small Business Saturday to shop and support your local stores. Many stores will have deep discounts through the season if you want to avoid the weekend rush.
The Power of Potluck
To cut party costs during the holidays, ask others to contribute. When you host a party, everything adds up. Most people are more than happy to contribute. They also take those dirty dishes home, which means there is less cleanup for you. Win!
Draw names or do a Secret Santa exchange if you have a big extended family. Buying something for one person is much easier and more practical than having to buy for everyone. Set a spending limit to allow for a more personalized purchase. Getting everyone something makes gifting ridiculously expensive. Besides, who needs 8 sweaters and 4 pairs of gloves? Family exchanges cut down on duplicates of yet another tie or socks peppered with reindeer, plus it can keep you within your spending happy place.
The holiday season is much more about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying a few days off from work than it is a pile of presents. It’s not about how much you spend on someone; it’s the gesture of love that counts. You can show love in more ways than spending your hard earned cash. Treat yourself to a more joyful New Year by keeping the debt off your back.