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.
Every year when the holiday season hits, it seems as if there is a race to drain our wallets. Don’t succumb! Let’s not use plastic to fund our season this year, and let’s not blow our budgets. It may require us to make some different choices, but it will certainly feel a lot better in January when we aren’t suffering the post-holiday financial hangover!
1) Make a Plan
I cannot stress this enough. Plan your budget, plan your gift giving, plan your event spending, plan your time. When we go into the holidays without a plan, we will become overwhelmed. And overspend. Does that bring you joy? Does it bring others joy? Then don’t do it! Determine what you realistically have to spend and decide how much of that amount you want to spend on gifts, parties, etc. I know it’s hard, but stick to it.
2) Cut Back
It is very important that if you find you don’t have the budget for all you would like to buy or do, that you make careful, conscious decisions of what to cut out. Decide which traditions are important to you and which ones you may be doing simply because you always have. If you buy Nutcracker ballet tickets every year, but your family really isn’t looking forward to going, don’t go. If you have a lot of holiday events you will be attending, don’t buy a new outfit for every event—work with what you have and buy a piece or two to jazz up what you already own. Pare back your holiday meals to the food that actually gets eaten—all too often we are throwing away perfectly good food.
3) Do Less Gift Giving and More Sharing of Time
See if certain friends and family may be willing to forgo the exchanging of gifts this year and instead exchange some quality time. By next year, you may have forgotten the token gift your girlfriend gave you, but my bet is you will remember going to see a free concert in the park with her.
4) Choose a Meaningful Gift
Sometimes we tend to overbuy because we KEEP buying! Choose a gift—ONE gift—that you want to buy someone and then STOP BUYING! It’s so easy to keep picking up little trinkets here and there, but resist the urge. All of those little things do add up rather quickly.
5) Plan Your Meals
November and December seem to fly by, and it becomes so tempting to pick up a pizza here and order in Chinese there. Instead, make a simple weekly meal plan that you can stick to. Even if you are just heating up a frozen pizza, it’s still less expensive than takeout. Plus, one weekly trip to the grocery store has to be a lot less stressful than 7 mad dashes to already packed fast food chains and carry out establishments.
6) Pat Yourself on the Back
It may be hard to not overspend, but you will thank yourself later. And honestly, you’ll feel more at peace with yourself through the holiday season. Take a little time to put your feet up, enjoy a mug of cocoa and congratulate yourself for making positive changes in your spending!
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