Holiday season?! Already?! It is only October…I know. Still, I have some advice to share pertaining to how not to go broke this holiday season…and it requires planning ahead. Each year as the holidays roll around many of us feel a financial strain. Unfortunately our credit card bills are often “the gift that keeps on giving” long after the holiday season has passed. Today I am going to share my holiday tips and tricks with you:
- Create a budget. Look at your finances and then decide how much you will be able to spend on the holidays.
- Make a list…and then check it twice! Begin by listing all of the people who you need to purchase gifts for. After I have done this, I usually categorize my list (i.e.- family, friends, co-workers, etc.). Next I divide my budget by assigning a certain dollar amount to be equally divided amongst the recipients in a set category.
Overall Budget: $1,000.
Family = $600/4 = $150/pp.
Friends = $300/6 = $50/pp.
Co-Workers = $100/5 = $20/pp.
- Begin shopping early! I usually begin my holiday shopping by no later than September or October. I try to limit my purchases to just one or two gift recipients per month. By doing this I am able to break my holiday shopping down into more palatable amounts, thus alleviating a good amount of my financial stress.
- It’s a wrap! I have found that wrapping my gifts as I purchase them helps to mitigate my feelings of being overwhelmed later on.
- Consider Gifting Alternatives! As opposed to purchasing a separate gift for each of your friends, you may want to suggest that you all share the cost of going out for a nice holiday dinner instead. By doing this everyone will get to enjoy an evening out without the fear of “breaking the bank”.
- Don’t forget your team! It is important to remember all of your “support staff” (i.e.- the mailman, the garbage guys, your vet, your child’s teacher, etc.). I strongly recommend a monetary tip for the mailman and the garbage guys (let’s face it…these are not the people who you want to piss off); however, for everyone else a simple thank you note along with a baked good, a bottle of wine (generally the teachers really appreciate booze…after all, they are dealing with children all day long) or a small gift card is a much appreciated gesture. Be sure to allot money for this in your budget!
- Pick up an extra generic gift or two! Personally I always plan ahead just in case someone unexpectedly surprises me with a gift. I do this by purchasing a few small generic gifts which I can easily use myself if I do not wind up using them as gifts (i.e.- a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, shower gel/body lotion, etc.).
- Plan ahead for next year! Consider opening a “Holiday Club” savings account at your bank. This will encourage you to put away a small amount of money each week thus preparing you for next year’s financial burdens.
By planning ahead and starting early the entire holiday shopping experience can be much more enjoyable!