Create a budget, spending limits, and a list for holiday spending and gift giving in advance of buying. Include possible gifts, dollar amounts and alternative choices. Don’t forget expenses like holiday decorations, wrapping paper, cards and postage, plus extra food costs for parties and family gatherings. Knowing how much you can truly afford to spend is a crucial first step in controlling costs.
Use cash and avoid credit cards when you can
Statistically, credit card users spend more than cash buyers because it is easier to over charge and go over your budget.
Use coupons, compare prices online and look for sales and clearance items. To save on children’s gifts, consider flea markets, yard sales and consignment stores. Definitely avoid last minute shopping!
Do it online
Online auctions such as eBay are great places to find bargains, but be aware of how much similar items cost at retail. Many retailers have clearance sections on their shopping sites where you can save big.
Handmade craft items, special desserts or breads and other “goodies” can help stretch a holiday budget. Use your skills or hobbies to make gifts. You can also consider a gift of your time and talent.
Avoid the budget busters
Don’t succumb to the commercial holiday triggers and ads. Don’t give in to emotional pressures by sticking to your plan and using the tips above. Being organized and intentional can help you avoid those unplanned purchases and save time, money and stress.
Plan food for festivities
It’s surprising and often an uncalculated amount of money that goes into holiday eating. Traditional Christmas dinners, fruit cakes, reindeer cookies and eggnog are all a part of what make great memories over the holiday season. Being careful not to overbuy or duplicate items already in our cabinets is helpful. Letting others contribute such as bringing a complimentary dish or batch of goodies is both conservative and an added treat to the table.
Remembering the reason for the season helps put giving in perspective
One of the main reasons we get swept away into the automated buying frenzy during the holiday season is because product promoters hold our attention. Remembering that it is a business to capitalize on Christmas by presenting a buying sentiment helps us to redirect our priorities. Taking time to invest in the true meaning of Christmas can alleviate the pressure. As a family go to a Nativity scene, watch a Christmas play at church, rent a Hallmark movie about the true meaning of Christmas, etc.
Having a plan before the Christmas season “happens to you” and to the best of your ability following that plan will help you survive the holiday financially, and I pray give you fiscal peace. The benefit of employing even a few of the tips discussed can be worth a lot of money and stress. It’s important to not lose your financial disciplines, improve your financial health and of course enjoy the holidays. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!
Jeffery Masters, President of Jeffery W. Masters & Associates, Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC, Investment Advise offered through Independent Financial Partners,
a Registered Investment Advisor. Independent Financial Partners and Jeffery W. Masters & Associates are not affiliated with LPL Financial. Call 954-977-5150