It seems no matter what we face financially going into the holidays, we tend to go overboard when the shopping season begins. Black Friday brings hoards of people to shops and malls, battling for the best deals. Right up to Christmas Eve, it seems the shops are packed and we have our credit cards out, ready to spend. By January, we’re groaning from all the food eaten and the bills that are due. We swear next year will be different, but the vicious cycle repeats itself.
How can we get through the holidays without going broke? Is there a way to remove ourselves from the temptation of overspending and feeling the pain of debt later? We could try to work more and make up for the money spent, or cut expenses elsewhere to pool money for gifts, but that can prove challenging when an emergency rises. If you are worried about money during the winter holidays, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Set a budget and keep to it. If you have only two hundred dollars to spare for Christmas gifts, stick to that amount and do not be tempted to go over. It’s true that gifts – especially toys and electronic gadgets – seem to get more expensive each year, but if you shop smartly you may find you can get what you need without breaking the bank. When shopping online, look for sites that offer free shipping and gift wrap, and check coupon watchdog sites for coupon codes you can use to bring down some prices.
2) Cut down on luxuries before the holidays. Are you the type who loves getting the daily latte at your favorite cafe? Do you never miss a monthly appointment for a manicure or massage? Little luxuries like these are nice, but do add up in the long run. A few months before you know you need to shop, consider putting these “me time” things on hold until after the gifts are bought. The money you save can be put toward your gift budget.
3) Research group buying deals. Sites like Groupon and Living Social offer all sorts of gift ideas for the holidays. If you can find some inexpensive gifts, take advantage of the bargains and place them in stockings. It’s a chance to give something unique that you wouldn’t ordinarily give.
Be watchful of your budget during the holiday season. It’s possible to show you care without draining your bank account.