How Not to Break the Bank this Holiday Season

Dec 23 • Financial Planning • 1302 Views • No Comments on How Not to Break the Bank this Holiday Season

What happened?  You blinked and all of a sudden it is December!  Christmas is right around the corner, and you feel unprepared to say the least.  Now what?  The holiday season is notorious for causing people to overspend and even rack up dangerous amounts of debt.  Here are a few ways to keep a little jingle in your pocket this season:

Gift Giving

Do NOT feel obligated to buy a gift for everyone you come in contact with or even everyone who gives you a gift.   Make a list of those folks who you would like to buy for and stick to it.  If you keep adding people, you’ll never stop.  Once you’ve made this list – hold onto it for next year.  Establish a total that you would like to spend on Christmas gifts, then divvy it up between the people on your list.  Once you know your total, divide that number buy 11 and set aside that amount every month so that you’ll be ready for next Christmas!

Get your family on board with the “drawing names” approach.  Around Thanksgiving, put everyone’s name in a hat and each person is only responsible for getting a gift for the family member they draw.  This way you only have to buy one gift, not seventeen.

If you want to do something nice for your friends/neighbors/co-workers, don’t go out and buy them each a gift certificate.  Bake a few batches of cookies or other portable treats and pass them around at the office or your neighborhood.  You could even individually wrap them or put them on a cute disposable holiday -themed plate to add a festive feel.

If you want to give a REALLY valuable gift to someone, don’t go shopping at all!  Offer them a free night of babysitting, dog walking, house-cleaning, or just some quality time together.  We sometimes forget that experiences can be much more meaningful than material things.  These are the gifts they will remember and truly appreciate.  Instead of buying gifts for friends, host a cookie exchange, DIY spa night, potluck, or movie night.  If you’d like to incorporate a charitable tilt, find a way to donate your time instead of your cash.  Schedule a group volunteer night at a soup kitchen, sponsor a family off, or work with your church community to find a volunteer event.

When you are shopping for items, don’t just go to the mall and stay there until you’ve crossed everyone off your list – shop around.  Never pay full price if you can help it!  Check websites like Amazon and eBay to see if you can get a better deal.  There are several coupon apps available for your phone, such as RetailMeNot, where you simply enter the store name and it will find any available coupon codes for you to use online or in the store.

Holiday Cards

Holiday cards have a sneaky way of draining your pocketbook.  Printing cute cards is easy through online sites, but beware – $2.00 per card sounds cheap, but it can add up fast!  If you order 50 cards, you’re talking $100 plus the cost of postage.  Go the electronic route and email your holiday message or order prints for $0.10 a pop instead of $2.00 for the same picture printed on a card.

Parties

Every weekend seems to be full of parties to attend during the month of December.  It is easy to think that you “need” a new dress, pair of shoes, or (insert your vice here) but in reality, you have options.  Do a deep dive into your closet and see what you can work with.  Many times, you can wear the same dress but completely change your look by adding a different scarf, shoes, or jewelry.  Get together with some friends and borrow each other’s outfits, dresses or ugly Christmas sweaters so you have something “new” to wear to every event.  If you do end up buying new attire, make sure that it is functional.  Ask yourself where else you can wear it.  If you can name several occasions – holiday parties, weddings, work events, etc., then it may be a worthwhile purchase.

For more information, visit our website at www.makinglifecount.com or contact Jamie Bosse at 913-345-1881 or jbosse@makinglifecount.com.

Photo credit: Peter Hilton / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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