It seems like we start thinking and talking about the holidays a little earlier every year. It begins well before the Halloween candy and costumes appear and ends with a hangover on New Year’s Day.
The holidays are supposed to be filled with happiness and joy—but they can also wreck your finances if you’re not careful. It’s the most expensive time of year for most Americans, who racked up more than $1,000 in debt on average last year.
Besides overspending on gifts for family and friends, there are other financial pitfalls that can sneak up on us. I know what it’s like to get caught up in too much shopping and consumerism during the holidays.
To make the season brighter, less expensive, and more memorable, consider these eight tips.
8 Ways to Make the Holidays Less Expensive and More Memorable
Here are the details on a variety of ways to financially survive and thrive during the holidays.
1. Create a holiday giving plan.
As early in the season as possible, start thinking about every gift you plan to give. Jot down family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and service professionals you’d like to remember. Estimate a gift amount for one, even if you have no idea what to give him or her yet.
Add up your total estimated gift amount and see if it fits into your budget. If you still haven’t paid off last year’s holiday expenses, you definitely overspent—so be sure not to repeat that mistake again this year.
To cut costs, you could buy less expensive items or make an economical batch of something homemade and from the heart, such as cookies or tree ornaments.
Also consider additional expenses such as travel, throwing a party, wrapping paper, cards, postage, decorations, or new party clothes. If the total is more than you can afford or want to pay, you might reduce the estimated gift amounts or shorten your gift list.
Next, put the list in order of importance. For instance, you might rank spending $50 on Mom as a higher priority than $30 for Great Uncle Norwood. You should buy the most important gifts first, so you aren’t tempted to overspend using a credit card if you drain your budget on low priority gifts.
To cut costs, you could buy less expensive items or make an economical batch of something homemade and from the heart, such as cookies or tree ornaments. It’s also nice to have extras of inexpensive, homemade gifts so you can reciprocate when someone gives you a gift that you didn’t expect to receive.
Why not start a separate savings account that’s just for the holidays? You can…