Ohhhh, the holidays…. and holiday shopping!!! How I love thee… well, kind of. Ever go to the store, start hunting for gifts, then somehow end up with 3 new sweaters, an Instapot, maybe some new shoes, and STILL no gifts for anyone else? No??? That’s just me? But I neeeeeed that Instapot. It’s amazing.
All kidding aside, holiday spending can easily turn into holiday OVERSPENDING, and it adds way too much pressure to an already expensive season. It’s bad for your financial health, and at the end of the day, is it really bringing you and your loved ones joy?
There are some really simple strategies to keep in mind to help you make it through the minefield of December spending, and honestly, these are tools you can use anytime. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Arbor Day… you get the drift.
1. Set a Budget
Include any expenses that are outside of your normal expenditures, and related to the holidays. Going to visit family? Include travel. Have a list of people to buy gifts for? Include dollar amounts for each person. Making a special holiday meal? Set your budget and plan your menu accordingly. Having an overall holiday budget before you start spending will help reign in those holiday dollars.
2. Use Cash
Cash is king when it comes to sticking to your holiday budget. It’s WAY too easy to be out shopping and be tempted by all the beautiful store displays, tons of options and impulse buys. If you only allow yourself to spend the cash that you have on you (the cash you decided on in your holiday budget), then you can’t go over it! So before you hit the store, hit the ATM and leave those credit cards at home.
3. Consolidate Gifting
One of the hardest parts of holiday gifting is feeling pressure to give a gift to every single person who gives you one. Or having a large group of friends and/or co-workers who exchange gifts. But, why? Do we really need to get and give presents to every single person in our circle? (The answer is a big fat NO). Get together with the people you spend time with, and do a white elephant exchange, or secret Santa, or whatever kind of ‘I drew your name out of a hat’ game feels fun for your Christmas/Kwanza/Hannukah/Festivus celebration! We’re nothing if not inclusive 😉
4. Get Crafty
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to give a really memorable gift! Be creative, be thoughtful, be crafty, and really dig into the spirit of the season. One of my FAVORITE gifts from my husband was a scavenger hunt of small silly presents. We had agreed to not spend money on each other that Christmas and the care and effort he put into that “gift” was so incredibly special to me. To this day, it’s one of my favorite memories of us.
5. Set Deal Alerts
Have something that you really REALLY want to buy, but it’s just a little too expensive? Set up a google alert to look out for a sale! Or have a favorite store that you like to shop at? Same thing- keep an eye out for holiday specials, search for coupons and discount codes online. There are soooo many deals to be had if you look. Because who doesn’t love a good bargain, right??
I know that December can strike dread into the hearts and bank accounts of many, but if you try some of these ideas, you might find that it’s really not so bad after all. And who knows, it might make your holiday just a tiny bit merrier and brighter.