The holidays are a time to surround yourself with the ones that you love, count your blessings and to be joyous. The season is indeed that, but it also has become a stressful time as many people who are struggling financially to pay their bills on a regular basis, now have to incur all of the extra costs associated with holiday shopping and giving. This means that while December is a time for Joy, January is a time for anxiety as you try to figure out how to pay all of your bills. It doesn’t have to be though and with these 7 tips, you can avoid overspending during the holidays and going deep into debt for the sake of giving your family the best holidays ever.
Set a budget – Before you even start shopping this holiday season, take time to establish a budget for what you plan on spending. This budget should not only include the amount of money that you want to spend on gifts but the amount of money you plan on spending on things like holiday parties and traveling as well.
Don’t fall into sales traps – Sales are enticing and everyone loves saving 30, 40 or 50% on a purchase. Sales are great if what you’d intended to buy is on sale, but many times, sales just sucker us into buying something that we had no intentions of buying in the first place or more of something than we would’ve bought if it wasn’t on sale. Sure you get a good price, but you end up overspending in the end and you may end up with junk that no one really wants and that you bought just because it was cheaper.
Limit personal shopping – It's so enticing to just add something to your cart as a reward for all of your hard work or to buy something for yourself with the money you saved from a sale. These purchases add up though and before you know it, you may have spend more money on gifts for yourself than gifts for other people! Unless its something that you really and truly need, try to avoid going on a shopping spree for yourself when all of your favorite stores are emailing you on a daily basis about the discounts that they’re offering.
Make a list – It doesn’t have to be as extensive as Santas…but make a list of the things that you want to buy for people. If this sounds like it takes too much planning and thought, try setting a budget for how much you’re going to spend on each person that you’d like to buy a gift for. You can give yourself a range so you'll have some wiggle room but try to hold yourself as accountable as possible for not going outside of that range.
Don’t be afraid to say no – If a co-worker or friend asks you if you want to do a gift exchange or a parent at your kids school and you really don’t, say no. You may be worried about what they’ll think about you but they don’t pay your bills, so try to push those thoughts out of your mind. Just like everything else, once the holiday season has passed and everyone is firmly back in business mode, no one will be giving too much thought to the invitation that you declined.
Quality over quantity – Think really hard about your child’s last holiday. You may have loved watching their eyes open wide as they saw all of the presents that were just for them and felt like the best parent in the world as they ripped through the packaging that you so carefully wrapped. Think past this though, think to a week later or in many case as few hours later. How many presents were they still playing with? How many presents are currently in the stored toys pile versus being actively played with? Chances are that the majority of their toys were played with for a very short time, while one or two toys made it into their every day favorites. As you’re spending your hard earned money and potentially going into debt to make the holidays happen, remember this. Your kids may be initially disappointed when they see less toys than there have been in previous years but your job as a parent isn’t to make sure that your kids are never disappointed. If you want to be proactive, you can talk to your kids about it before to properly set their expectations or a conversation with them during or after to make sure that you addressed their concerns.
Don’t overuse credit – Many parents go into debt during the holidays. Credit cards when used properly have amazing benefits but when misused, can get you into big trouble. In fact, many parents admit that they’re still paying off debts that they incurred last year. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t afford to pay for everything that you’re buying on your credit card, you should revisit your budget to get it more in line with what you can feasibly afford to do.
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