Six Holiday Spending Tips to Help Keep Your Budget in The Black
Ah, the holiday season. Is there any more magical time of year? The chill in the air, the snow, the happy songs, the gathering of loved ones and of course, the inevitable, mandatory spending.
Okay, maybe the spending isn’t “mandatory” but if you’re like most people, you will be spending some money this holiday season and that’s why I’m here to help keep you in check, so you don’t have to make a new year’s resolution that reads “get out of holiday spending debt”. In the season of giving, you should give yourself peace of mind knowing that you didn’t overspend during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and the new year.
Let’s ring in 2023 from a strong financial place so we have the confidence to conquer the new year!
Tip #1: Start with a holiday plan and a budget.
You’ve probably heard the adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Shield yourself against overspending with a comprehensive list that goes beyond gifts for loved ones. Don’t forget:
- Work friends
- People who provide services to you
- Secret Santa
- Meals out
Handy with Excel? Make a spread sheet with categories for food, gifts, travel, parties and outfits (if you like to buy new clothes for the holidays). Put a priority next to each item in each category to help you decide where to cut costs if needed.
Tip #2: Pool money with others to buy larger gifts.
If you’re buying a big-ticket item for someone, ask a family member or friend to go in with you. For example, if your kid has a gaming system on their list, go in on it with your parents and maybe an aunt or uncle and say it’s from everyone on the card.
Tip #3: Don't be tricked by "good deals".
Shopping for deals is great if it’s on gifts that you’re already planning to buy. But when you start buying things not on your list because of a sale, it can lead to overspending. “20% off of $100” still means you’re going to spend an extra $80 you never planned to spend.
Tip #4: If you’ve earned rewards from credit cards, now is the perfect time to use them.
You may have just been accumulating your points and rewards from credit cards, not sure when to use them. Redeem them now for cash back, a statement credit to go toward your budget, or redeem them for store gift cards at stores where you plan to shop for gifts.
Tip #5: Quality is more important than quantity.
Here’s a rule of thumb- several small gifts are less impressive than one big gift (and can often be more expensive and have less quality!) When you receive fewer things, you cherish what you get more. Wouldn’t you rather receive one cashmere sweater that will last years than four cotton blend sweaters that will be worn out and unwearable in a couple seasons from now?
Tip #6: Remember: Your presence is the best present. Your loved ones do not love you because of your ability to spend.
It’s easy to be blinded by commercial and consumerism, but you are not loved or valued based on what you spend on others. You can be generous without spending money at all. The people that truly love you will not want you to go into a compromising financial situation by overspending on them.