The festive year-end holidays are typically a time of celebration and cheer, and give many a chance to enjoy the company of loved ones often not seen throughout the year. However, the holidays are also known for being a season of extravagant gift giving, which can cause a great deal of financial stress that extends for months to come. This doesn’t have to happen. By planning ahead and implementing the right strategies, you can take control of your seasonal spending so that it doesn’t negatively impact your happy new year.
1. Change your mindset. No matter what holidays you celebrate, they do not have to be about gift giving. Focus on the spirit of the holidays, rather than the materials. Your attitude will be contagious.
2. Make pacts. There are two kinds of pacts you can make. You can make a pact with coworkers not to exchange gifts. Some of your coworkers are probably dreading having to buy gifts as much as you are, and you may be surprised at their relief. If you must exchange gifts with friends, make a different pact. Agree on a monetary limit. Most people will be happy to go along with the pacts you want to make.
3. Give BIG gifts that cost nothing. Your Aunt Rose may never wear the perfume you pick out for her, but she’d probably be tickled to death to receive a coupon saying that you’ll come for a visit any summer weekend that she chooses. Perhaps Dad would like a coupon entitling him to one spring garage cleaning. These free but thoughtful gifts will be more appreciated that anything store bought.
4. Save on holiday meals. Rather than have a meal with all the trimmings just for your family, invite others close to you, and ask everyone to bring one item. Engage them by asking them what dish they do best, and encourage them to bring that. People love to make their favorites and have everyone else fawn over them. This will not only save you money, but it will also save you the trouble of having to make every component of the holiday meal.
5. If you have children, it’s a little harder to formulate your gift giving strategies, but there are still things you can do. Go shopping for next year’s holidays right after Christmas. This is the time of year when you will find the best deals on items like electronics and toys. Not only will you be able to purchase some nice gifts that you can stash away for next year, but you will likely find some things for yourself that you haven’t been able to afford before now. Another thing to do is to start saving up for next year’s have-to-have hot new toys, as soon as this season is over. Starting a separate savings account for this money will make it less likely that you’ll touch it before the next holidays roll around.
Those are just some of the things you can do to ensure that you don’t break the bank this holiday season. When you start making the holidays more about spending time with others, and less about spending money, you and those who surround you will have more enjoyable holidays and much happier new years.