Even with the down economy, the pressure to spend money during the holidays is greater than ever. There’s almost an obligation to purchase a gift for everyone – from your family to the mailman. While many turn to credit cards to pay for gifts they can’t afford, you don’t have to. Start early to avoid putting yourself in a messy financial situation in the name of holiday cheer.
Start Saving Now
It is not necessary to go into debt because of the holidays. The easiest way to avoid spending more than you should is to plan in advance. Start setting aside money each paycheck starting in September or October. By the time those Black Friday deals come around, you’ll have enough to buy a little something for yourself, too.
Besides preparing your finances in advance, plan out gifts. Make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for. Come up with a couple of gift ideas for each person on your list. Then look for those items on sale or even clearance. If you start looking for these bargains early, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you finish holiday shopping and how much money you’ve saved.
Make Your Gifts
If you’re crafty, make your gifts. Making several of one item can save you a lot of money because you can often purchase these supplies in bulk. DIY gifts are often more meaningful than store bought purchases. Some ideas include hot chocolate mix in mason jars, body scrub, knitted scarves and more. Browse Pinterest for even more ideas. If you do decide to create your own gifts, make sure you start early. Tying all of those ribbons to the mason jars can take a lot longer than you think.
Don’t Forget Your Decorations
Even with the best budgeting intentions, people can sometimes forget to plan for decoration expenses. If you purchase icicles for your Christmas tree every year, you’ll want to include that in your holiday budget. You should also look for durable holiday decorations. While the up-front cost might be a little higher, you’ll save money in the long-term.
For example, purchase an artificial Christmas tree that you can use year after year instead of a real tree. Try buying your tree after Christmas for maximum savings. If you need one this year, purchase it before Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving arrives, prices on all decorations tend to rise. If you absolutely must wait until last minute, check Black Friday sales on Christmas décor.
Budget for Holiday Meals
If your family is accustomed to having feasts on Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’ll need to plan for the costs of the ingredients for those big meals. If your budget is really tight, have a pitch-in. If each person brings a dish, there is much less expense for you. To make it easier to figure out what you need, use a holiday menu planner. Planning ahead will save you stress.
Avoid stress this holiday season by planning in advance. Start saving early to maximize the amount you can spend. Budget for those extra expenses such as decorations and food. Make gifts and decorations yourself. Most importantly, enjoy yourself this season.