It all seems to come at once, doesn’t it? You barely get a day or two to breathe over Halloween and you’re hit with an avalanche of holidays and holiday expenses. In the next couple of months, we’re facing an endless onslaught of gift-giving, parties, meals, and travel. This is a fun time of year if you can afford it. But, can you afford it?
For so many people January and February become months of dread. That’s when the bills from the holidays start to come due, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You truly can have a debt-free holiday. Just follow these seven tips.
Pare Down Your Gift List
Do you need to buy gifts for your second cousins or their children? Let’s be honest, they don’t want to buy gifts for you either. Eliminate your stress and theirs and agree to cut off gift-giving.
You might also suggest Secret Santa or white elephant gift exchanges. With these, you only give gifts to one person in a group or the presents are limited to fun items instead of expensive gifts.
Make a List And Buy Duplicates
What should you buy for your 30 nieces and nephews or 15 sorority sisters? What about your uncles? If you need to buy gifts for several people in a single demographic, divide your Christmas shopping list accordingly. Then, seek out deals that fit and buy multiples of the same item for example:
- Teenage Nieces – Make-up kits
- Uncles – A bottle of brandy
- Co-workers – Christmas candle
- Fraternity Brothers – Engraved pocket knives
- Nephews – Fishing poles and tackle boxes
Offer Homemade Gifts
People appreciate the thought behind homemade gifts. Consumables and functional gifts are especially appreciated during a time of year when people tend to be accumulating a lot of “stuff”. So, bake some cookies, make jars of hand cream, crochet hats, or do whatever it is that you do so well.
Hit Up Thrift Stores For Vintage Decor
You don’t have to blow your budget buying Christmas decorations at the department and big box stores. Instead, take a look at your local thrift stores. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you can get and how low the prices are.
Also, the quality is often stunning. You may find that you can buy truly vintage Christmas items for less than you would spend on mass-produced plastic.
Are you entertaining this year? Don’t forget to head over to the kitchenware section. Look for cute mismatched plates and vintage servingware. You can also stock up on vintage bakeware and glasses to round things out.
Make a Budget And Stick to It
It’s hard to keep within your budget when you don’t know what your budget is. Set a firm limit on the amount of money you are going to spend in total. Divide that up into categories such as gifts, travel, food, and entertainment.
Then, stick to it. You may have to say no to a few things, but most people will understand. Even better, they may appreciate you being the first to put on the brakes because it allows them to do the same. You aren’t the only one who needs to cut back.
Use Rewards And Receipt Apps
This is the perfect time of year to take advantage of apps and programs that offer rebates and rewards. Use these when you shop to receive points toward gift cards, cash rebates, and other incentives. Start with a high-avage credit card, but only if you pay it off right away. Then, check out these options:
- Receipt Hog
If you haven’t signed up for loyalty programs at your local coffee shops, grocery stores, or gas stations, do that as well. Then keep at it next year. You may earn enough to fund your holiday spending next year.
Spread Things Out With Experience Gifts
What if you could put off some of your holiday spending for a few months? You can if you give the gift of experience! Got a friend that loves baseball? Make a pact to take him to a double-header this summer. Then, buy the tickets in March.
Learn what people you love are interested in. That may be stamp collecting, boating, shemale dating, camping, horror movies, or a range of other things. Then, plan an experience around that for spring or summer. It’s a gift of quality time and thoughtful too!
Embrace the Gift of Giving Back
In the spirit of the season, consider redirecting some of your holiday spending to charitable causes. Instead of physical gifts, you can donate to a charity in someone’s name. Many organizations offer holiday-themed donation certificates, which can be a meaningful gift.
This approach not only helps those in need but also teaches children and reminds adults about the true spirit of the holiday season. Plus, it’s a gift that keeps on giving, long after the holidays have passed.
Plan for Post-Holiday Sales
Another savvy way to approach holiday spending is to take advantage of post-holiday sales. Many items, especially holiday-themed products, go on significant discounts once the season is over. Plan to purchase decorations, wrapping paper, and even some non-perishable gifts for next year in the first weeks of January. This strategy requires a bit of storage space and forward-thinking, but the savings can be substantial.
Protect Your Wallet
Don’t work hard to maintain a budget and lose your money to fraudsters. Be aware of scams and identity theft risks as you shop. Take steps such as avoiding public Wi-Fi when shopping online, paying with cash, and adding two-factor authentication everywhere you can.
The holidays are a time for joy, reflection, and connection, not stress and financial strain. By implementing these thoughtful strategies, from trimming your gift list to planning for post-holiday sales, you can enjoy the festive season without the worry of a looming credit card bill.
Remember, the best gifts often come without a price tag: your time, your love, and your presence. So, this holiday season, give yourself the gift of peace of mind by spending wisely, giving generously, and looking out for your financial well-being.