Year after year, we find ourselves experiencing the usual holiday dilemma. December has the same number of paychecks as every other month on the calendar, and yet, we’re expected to buy gifts for everyone we know, tip every person who helps us throughout the year, purchase extra food, decorations and special attire for holiday parties, and finance travel plans! Unless you’re the rare person who sets aside money throughout the year specifically meant to handle holiday expenses, you probably need to reign in spending in order to prevent credit card debt. Here are a few ideas on how to cut back on your holiday spending this year.
Only buy for the kids.
The easiest way to make room in your budget is to tell friends and family that you will only be buying for the children this year. Generally, people take this news well, and in most cases, they appreciate that you’ve relieved them of the burden to buy for you as well! The magic of Christmas is for the children after all, and the true meaning of the season can be celebrated through togetherness. You can always bring a basket of goodies for all of the adults to share, volunteer to take on some of the cooking, or bake cookies for the crowd. If there’s no way out of adult gift-giving, suggest a Secret Santa or White Elephant party, wherein each guest is only buying for one person. These parties are always fun, too.
Make the most of the wardrobe you already have.
I know this is going to sound like total bummer, but re-purpose clothes and shoes you already have. Every time you go to buy something for yourself in the months of November and December, even something as small as an accessory, ask yourself if you really need it right now. Is anyone going to notice if you show up in a dress you’ve already worn? Can you buy whatever it is after the holidays when your budget has a little more wiggle room?
Avoid the lure of buying more decorations!
Sure, going all Clark Griswold will muster up enough holiday cheer for the whole neighborhood, but again, do you need more lights, an inflatable Santa, or an overpriced wreath from a department store? Make it a tradition to take advantage of after-Christmas sales to stock up on new indoor and outdoor decorations. Then, when you take out your decorations next year, you’ll be greeted by new surprises. Retailers jack up the prices on this stuff, hoping to catch you on a holiday shopping high. And remind yourself of what else you could do with all of the money you are considering spending on stuff that will be seen for only a single month out of the entire year (tropical getaway?!).
Go digital or scale back your Christmas card list.
With the price of postage, the environmental impacts of sending paper cards, and the costs of creating photo cards, consider creating a digital greeting for friends and family, like those hilarious “Elf Yourself” videos! If you’re old fashioned and would prefer to send a hard copy, think about how many people on your list really want a tangible picture of your family (Will second cousins really hang it on their fridge for months to come?). Use this information to cut back on the number of cards you send out and stay in touch via email or social media for the rest.