It’s the time of year to fill our lives with holiday cheer, stuff those stockings, and give to the ones we love. It can also be a time of year that empties our wallets if we aren’t careful. (Filling Santa’s Sleigh isn’t exactly free!). Sometimes, in our genuine attempt to be generous to friends and family, a visit from Santa in December is quickly followed by getting Scrooged by credit card bills come January. It’s common, we’ve all done it. But it does not have to be this way.
Yes, this is a simple tried, and true rule. Figure out how much you can spend on the holiday. In addition to gifts, consider decorations, what events you might be going to, and where you may travel. You may want to review what you may have spent in past years. Try doing this early in the fall if possible.
Be a Thoughtful Santa
It’s a season of giving for sure, but sometimes we may be tempted to impress by buying every one that “hot” gift such as a pricey electronic gadget, or the “in” piece of high fashion. Try taking a moment and consider what the gift recipient might truly appreciate. It could be a handmade craft, a simple meaningful photograph, or a sweater you may have knitted yourself. Your loved ones may appreciate that you thought of them more so than the actual value of the gift.
Before buying something new, it may be a good idea to spruce up what you have in the decoration department. Are Christmas lights not working? Many times it’s just a bulb or two that needs replacement. Is the wreath not as green? A little paint would work wonders.
As in “Red Tag Sales!”. Always check the sale rack.
Remember those green pieces of paper with the pictures of Presidents on them? We call it cash. Before your shopping trip, try setting your credit cards aside, and bring your budgeted funds to the store in cash. This is an easy way to stay within budget, as you will only be able to spend what you have in your hand.
Visiting Loved Ones
There’s no place like home for the holidays! But where will “home” be this year? If you are traveling, consider your method of doing so. Many times a 2 or 3-hour plane ride could be double that amount of time if you count driving to and from the airport, security, and possible delays. Driving may be less expensive in some cases without sacrificing time. Also consider if you will be staying with your hosts, or if a hotel would be needed.
Tag. You’re it this year. Consider if your home will be well-stocked with food, linens, and other necessities. Will you be ordering a premade holiday meal, or will you prepare it yourself? A simple potluck can be popular too, as everyone will participate in the holiday offering, and easing the cost for you. You may also want to take into account going to any holiday events together vs keeping it simple and close to home.
Christmas is certainly the season of giving, but it does not have to put a strain on you financially. Having your holiday finances in order will allow you a carefree holiday, focusing on those you love the most.
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