The holidays are known as the most wonderful time of the year, and the fact that you get to enjoy quality time with family members and friends, some of whom you don’t get to see throughout the rest of the year, supports this idea. But the decorations, feasts, and gifts that punctuate the season of giving can quickly leave you digging your way out of debt if you’re not careful. And it’s not uncommon for people to get swept up in the spirit of the season and wind up spending far more than they planned or budgeted for. That said, this could be the year that you reach January first without having to resolve to cut up your credit cards, pay down debt, and start saving for next year’s holiday season. Here are just a few helpful tips that could keep you on track for smart spending habits.
Set a budget. The best place to start if you don’t want to overspend is by setting a budget for your holiday shopping. This should include allocating funds related to what you plan to spend on all of your holiday needs, including travel expenses, decorations, food, and gifts. Of course, the area you’re most likely overspend is on gifts, so you need to be particularly careful about figuring out who you want to purchase gifts for and how much you plan to spend on each person. This pre-planning will help you to control your spending and stick to your budget so that you don’t wind up going into debt on behalf of your loved ones. They wouldn’t want you to suffer just so they can get pricier gifts.
Cut your gift list. It’s tempting to get gifts for all of the people who touch your life, from your immediate family, to close friends, to coworkers, to your hair stylist and the barista who serves you coffee every morning. But if you’re working with limited funds, you need to cut to the chaff. Think about the people who really matter to you and take everyone else off your gift list. Or give additional gift recipients something inexpensive like homemade cookies.
Homemade gifts. If you really want to save money on gifting this year, create homemade gifts for everyone. The trick to making this type of gifting tenable is choosing easy-to-make crafts that any recipient can use. So consider making candles, soap (or other bath products), stationary, personalized photo frames, ornaments, and of course, arrangements of edible treats.
Gift cards. One easy way to control spending precisely and engage in money management this holiday season is to give gift cards. You might think such offerings are impersonal, but you can personalize them by carefully selecting the stores you choose to get them from. And recipients will appreciate the ability to get whatever they want or need rather than having to exchange the items you pick for them.
Charitable donations. The top personal finance blogs can offer you plenty of recommendations when it comes to saving money and curbing spending, but if you want to do something radical this holiday season that offers more benefits than merely cutting costs, think about making donations in lieu of buying gifts. When you donate to your favorite charities in the names of your loved ones you can not only control spending, but you and your family and friends can feel good about offering aid to someone who really needs it this holiday season.