While the holidays can bring bounds of merriment and joy, one pastime should be avoided at all costs – that is overspending on travels, holiday parties, decorations and gifts. In fact, a poll by Consumer Reports states that 29% of people are worried about getting into debt this season, while 1 in 4 Americans end up spending more money than they have during the holidays. The pressure to live up to a certain standard can be high, no amount of spending is worth the cost of financial struggles and post-holiday debt.
Fortunately, with enough creativity and planning, your holiday can go from draining, to debt-free in a few simple steps.
- Commit to Your Shopping Checklist
When it comes to saving money this holiday season, a shopping strategy is key. Holiday shopping can be the same as entering a grocery store with no list and an empty stomach – you eat with your eyes and fill your cart up with unnecessary items. While you may not be able to do much for your hunger to spend, making a list and sticking to it can help you stay focused amidst all of the excitement. Know what you want to buy and who you want to buy it for. Strategically planning out your holiday shopping will help you spend less haphazardly in stores.
- Don’t Wait to Start Gift Shopping
It’s easy to wait until December comes around to start figuring out the “who’s” and “what” of your gift buying, but experts actually advise against it. Everything from airfares to retail items gets hiked up during the season (often under the illusion of a sale). In order to better manage your budget start buying gifts months before Christmas rolls around. Plus, you’ll cut down on stress and the running around you’ll have to do during the season so more of your time can be spent with the family.
- Reuse Last Year’s Gift Wrapping
It may seem silly, but wrapping accessories really do add up, not to mention they are only used for a very short amount of time before they are thrown out. According to Sundale Research, Americans spend over $7 billion on wrapping paper every year. The majority of these perfectly good bags, bows, boxes, and wrapping paper go to waste. Do what you can to preserve and repurpose wrapping paper, within reason, for use year after year. Simply cut down ripped paper, place a piece of tape on old bows, and repurpose unused gift tags for the gift-wrapping that keeps on giving.
- Give Homemade Gifts
While a costly bottle of wine may seem like the perfect gift for that holiday party, giving something from the heart will actually stand out and be cherished over the rest. Homemade gifts are the perfect way to show your gratitude while enabling you to save a bit of money. Baked goods such as cookies and cakes, or even DIY items such as festive ornaments, pottery, jewelry, candles and more can be a great gift and contribute to your savings.
- Create New Holiday Celebrations
For some, the holidays are all about entertaining, and this entertainment can come at a hefty price. Fortunately, holiday celebrations don’t have to be expensive to be fun. In some cases they can even be free! Try making some new and affordable traditions, such as inviting the family over to decorate Christmas cookies and watch Christmas movies, caroling, making DIY ornaments, visiting popular Christmas lights, reading holiday stories, playing fun games, hosting a potluck of everyone’s favorite holiday foods, and much more! The possibilities are endless and it doesn’t take away from any of your family holiday fun.
Getting caught up in a holiday spending cycle is all too easy during the Christmas season. In fact, marketing campaigns are doing everything they can to ensure that you open your wallet in spirit of the season. This season, make a commitment to trade unnecessary holiday spending for quality time with your family. Your bank account will thank you for it.