According to the song, the holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”*, but the financial stresses that often go along with the holidays can make them seem like quite the opposite. Remember that even if your economic status is not what you want it to be, there are always ways to enjoy yourself and survive the holiday crunch.
Chances are you’ll be spending at least some money during the holiday season. With careful planning, you can make a small budget go a long way. Here are some holiday money saving tips:
- Save throughout the year. The holidays have a way of creeping up on you. You know the feeling; all of a sudden, it’s two weeks before Thanksgiving and you’ve made no effort to save for the holidays. You can’t pull money out of nowhere, but you should resist the urge to put all of your purchases on credit. If you’ve done this in the past, you know first-hand that you can find yourself still paying off last year’s gifts today.Avoiding that dilemma in the future is simple – withdraw a small amount of money from each paycheck and open a savings account (and by the way, we know a good bank for that!) that specifically covers your holiday spending. Those small amounts can add up to something big at the end of the year.
- Shop early. When you shop early you can avoid the stress of the crowds and the urgency of having to make decisions quickly. Start by making a list of gift ideas for everyone. This way, as you see those items throughout the year, you can pick them up. You may even find that they’re cheaper during off-peak times than during the holiday rush.
- Make your own gifts. If money is extra tight this year, consider giving your loved ones handmade gifts. Handmade gifts are given straight from the heart. They’ll provide memories that last a lifetime and are important reminders that the holiday season is not just about spending money.
- Shop for deals. While it can end up taking a great deal of extra time, make sure you do your homework when it comes to shopping for deals. Prices can vary greatly for a wide variety of products. Luckily, the internet can be your best friend when it comes to shopping for deals. It allows you to comparison shop quickly and easily from the comfort of your own home. While you’re shopping online, always remember to stay safe. If you haven’t heard of the website you’re purchasing from, make sure that you’re shopping on a secure server and do additional research into the company to seek out reviews.
Planning Your Budget
Whether or not you’ve saved throughout the year, it’s always a good idea to put yourself on a strict holiday budget. Decide on a total dollar amount and then how much you’ll spend on each person. If you need money for entertaining, decorating, food or other things, budget for that as well.
Remember to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure that you remain on budget. While it may be extra work, it’ll save you the stress of dealing with having to pay off additional debt.
Dealing with Seasonal Financial Stress
If the stress of the holidays has gotten you down, you’re certainly not alone. It’s not fun to have to deal with the financial aspects of the season, but it’ll help to keep the reward in mind.
If you’ve spent your money well, and your family gets through the holidays in a peaceful manner, then you’ve done your job. You’ll be adding to the memories that will last a lifetime…and remember that you can’t place a price tag on those. When you keep that positive goal in mind, it really can be the most wonderful time.
* It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle ©1963