It’s not too early to begin thinking about the holidays! The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most expensive time of the year. Do you ever look at the people who seem to give the perfect gift and wonder how they are able to find the time and money to perform such a magical accomplishment? To achieve this seemingly flawless execution, they most likely planned and saved all year for this moment – or they went into debt. Follow these easy steps to financially prepare for the holiday season, and avoid unnecessary debt.
Create a budget
It may seem dull to hear that the first tip is to budget, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and saving for the holidays won’t happen in a month. Start by adding a category in your budget for the holidays, and save each month. If you contribute a small amount to your holiday budget each month it can really add up, rather than trying to come up with money on the spot to pay for five teacher gifts, four kids’ pajamas, three homemade pies, two potlucks and a partridge in a pear tree. The budget should include spending limits for each gift. If you are exchanging with friends, family or co-workers, try to encourage everyone to agree on a limit. It can be tempting to spend an extra $5 here or $10 there on a gift, but the extra money you spend on each gift will add up and wreck your budget. Be sure to include food and travel in your holiday budget.
Picture a world in which you are finished with holiday shopping in October, and all you have left to do is wrap and bake. Keep a list of the names of the people or animals in your life for which you plan to purchase a gift. Next to each name, write down the spending limit and ideas for gifts. This allows you to buy gifts early, and reduce the expense and stress during the holiday season. The post-holiday sale season is really the most wonderful time of the year. Decorations, wrapping paper, bows, boxes, gifts – pretty much everything goes on sale, so begin next year’s holiday shopping in January!
Don’t break the bank
There is no need to go into debt to purchase gifts that are meant to show love and appreciation. You can show you care without breaking the bank. Find your inner creativity to make your dollar go further. Homemade gifts or food items can add a personalized touch. Convince your family and friends to draw names. It’s much easier to buy a gift for one person rather than every family member or every co-worker. Remember that younger kids are fascinated with anything new and have short attention spans, so there is no need to spend a lot on their gifts.
Put away perfection
The holiday season is about more than just gifts. It’s about time spent with people you care about, so put away the notion that every gift and meal must be perfect. While planning and saving 12 months of the year can lessen the stress of affording the holidays, those who are truly admired are the ones who are simply able to enjoy the season with those they love.