Responsible Spending Makes the Holidays Bright – and Affordable

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Here come the holidays! Is your pocketbook ready?

Between gifts for everyone on your list (and inevitably several folks who aren’t), entertaining expenses, party-going expenses, festive food and drinks – December can easily get financially out of hand! How can you avoid being holiday-poor by January?

Ideally, you’ve been squirreling away some extra money throughout the year in anticipation of holiday expenses. Perhaps you’ve established a Christmas Club account at your bank or credit union. Regardless of where you’ve saved, the best case scenario is that you have an amount of money set aside that you don’t need for anything else to call your holiday budget.

Even if you’ve established a holiday budget, however, it’s admittedly difficult to exercise restraint at such an emotional and memory-laden time of the year. At this festive season, we don’t want to feel deprived or, worse yet, deprive our loved ones of a memorable and richly-celebrated holiday.

Many times, however, we do get “wrapped up” in the spirit of the season and spend unnecessarily or go overboard. It is possible to have a wonderful holiday while keeping a lid on spending if you take the time and effort to carefully consider where your dollars are going.

Avoid unnecessary holiday spending with these tips:

  • Pay with cash rather than credit whenever possible – This is an obvious way to control your holiday spending. If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it. If you can’t withstand temptation, leave your credit cards at home. (Here are a few more thoughtful holiday gifts for the kitchen.)
  • Look into layaway – Layaway is making a comeback! Pay for your purchase in installments with no financing charge.
  • Make a list and check it twice – Spend the bulk of your shopping time in the planning stages. Make a list of what you need to buy (gifts, food, decorations…) before you head out. Allocate your budget among the items you need so you have an idea of how much you can spend on each.
  • Shop with purpose – Don’t just “go shopping.” Go with a purpose to buy gifts for Uncle Dave and Aunt Lucy or to shop for your holiday brunch buffet. Aimless shopping, especially at the holidays, will lead to mindless buying.
  • Consider homemade/handmade gifts – In many cases, it really is the thought that counts. Try to keep gifts simple and from the heart. A gift of your time and effort (homemade cookies or a hand-crocheted scarf) expresses that the recipient means more than a few minutes and a few dollars at the mall to you.
  • Shop according to holiday sales – There are bargains to be found – just don’t get carried away.
  • Spend where it really counts – Wrapping paper gets wadded up and discarded so don’t waste your budget on expensive gift wrappings. Wrap with flair and creativity which aren’t expensive!
  • Make memories – Truth be told, memorable holidays are more about what you did than what you got.
  • Reuse and repurpose – See if you can go just one year without purchasing even one new holiday decoration.
  • Festive apparel – Consider new accessories rather than entire new outfits which can complement several articles of clothing throughout the year.
  • Limit celebrations – Have one larger party rather than multiple smaller ones – it’s more economical. And remember – alcohol is expensive! It’s not your job as host to have a fully stocked bar. Provide a selection of the basics and maybe make a festive punch; then invite guests to BYOB if they have particular tastes.

Don’t regret your holidays when the celebrations are through. Wishing you a wonderful – and affordable – holiday!

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

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