The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but unfortunately it can also be a very stressful time for many people. A major cause of this stress is often the financial drain that comes with the holiday season. After gifts and social engagements and travel, we often find our finances in a rough place by New Years. However, by creating a well thought-out spending strategy we can avoid a lot of the associated stress so the holidays can be truly happy. The following tips can help you to plan your holiday spending strategy for 2015 so you won’t break the bank.
Make spending caps for each person you will give a gift to and stick to them. It can be tempting to buy the newest and best gifts for everyone on your list, but if you don’t draw a line somewhere, spending can quickly get out of hand. Make a thorough list of everyone who you plan to buy gifts for, get a good idea of what you will get each person, and set a clear limit.
Set aside money in a distinct account throughout the year for special holiday expenses. If you save small amounts during the year, holiday shopping is less daunting. You can even use special savings accounts made for these purposes, such as SmartyPig and CapitalOne 360 accounts.
Cut back on everyday spending where you can now. By limiting your entertainment expenses or other optional expenses now, you will be able to save more for the upcoming holiday and gift expenditures later on in the year.
Compare prices online before making any purchases. Make sure you can get the best deals on the gifts you do buy. You can actually save a lot of money by cutting coupons, searching for sales, and finding the best deals available.
Shop early. Prices jump drastically as December draws closer. The earlier you get started on your list, the better deals you can find.
Don’t forget to calculate wrapping expenses. It is so easy to forget to plan for the cost of wrapping paper in your holiday budget, but this expense can be a big one. Check out your current stocks, and assess how much more you will need to purchase. That number should be in your overall gift budget. Also, try to buy these things after the holidays for the upcoming year, because the prices will be drastically cut.
Expect the unexpected. During the holiday season, you never know when you will be invited to another event that requires a hostess gift or receive a gift you need to reciprocate from an unexpected source. In order to minimize the impact of these unplanned expenses, go ahead and put some money aside for these contingencies.
Try your hand at homemade gifts. The holidays are a great time for homemade cookies, candies, and other festive DIY projects. If you are gong to give coworkers or acquaintances or party hosts small gifts, a nice homemade gift is not only usually less expensive, but also more thoughtful. The best thing about planning to shop and spend smarter at the beginning of 2015 is that you can try out a new hobby or start on projects far earlier, making it less stressful come winter.
If you are hosting a holiday event, consider a potluck. It can be so expensive to cook for a big group. If you can’t cut out the event or cut down the guest list, consider going potluck. It will be fun and everyone will have the chance to contribute.
Don’t be afraid to say no to an event you can’t afford. Is a fancy dinner out just not in the budget? You can say no to these events without having to feel guilty. Just politely decline the invitation with a simple statement that you have other commitments and only attend events you can fit into your budget.
If you are traveling during the holidays, set up price alerts to find the best option. Websites like Hipmunk and Kayak offer the option of price alerts over time so that you can buy a flight or a hotel at the best possible price. Sign up for these early on and be ready to buy when the time is right.
Remember that a thoughtful gesture means more than an expensive one. Just because a certain gift cost more does not mean that it will mean more. Consider low cost gifts that will mean more to the recipient, whether that is a scrapbook or a favorite meal or simply their favorite coffee. Holidays are about sharing with the people we love, not overspending.
If you follow all of these tips, you will be in the best shape to enjoy the holiday season without too much stress about your finances. Just keep in mind that holidays are special because of the people you share them with, not the money you spend.
Struggling with debt or facing collections this year? Contact our Ohio consumer law firm for a free legal consultation when you call (888) 726-3181.