By Lynette Barbieri ~
The holiday season is upon us. It can be referred to as our favorite time of the year. It can also be chaotic and a financially stressful time for many. There are a lot of parties, traveling and shopping. We also use this time of year to shower one another with gifts. That alone can add up to a lot of money. Then add to that your traveling expenses, parties, holiday outfits, baking and cooking. This spending can literally cause you to go into debt that can take months at best to pay off in the new year. If you make a decision right now to change the way you spend your money during the holidays I promise you it will be a more enjoyable and less stressful time.
All you have to do is follow these 6 easy ways to save money during the holiday season:
- Create a holiday budget – This will pertain to the holiday as a whole not just gifts. You will have to evaluate how much you will have to spend in each category.
- Make a checklist – Who do you want to buy for. How much do you have to spend for each person. Then go through your holiday budget and make sure you have enough. If you fall short, go back over your checklist and see where you can make adjustments and save some money. Remember, you are not figuring out what to buy for each person, you are deciding what you have to spend first.
- Leave your credit cards home – You have to look at credit cards as a short- term loan you have to pay back. Only use it if absolutely necessary, and make sure you use the card with the lowest interest rate. When you have it in your wallet when you go shopping it is easier to use it and over spend. So just leave it home.
- Email your holiday cards – There are fun inexpensive and even free cards you can create, customize, and send on-line. Saving on the postage alone is so worth it. A lot of the cards even play music! Plus you save a tree!
- Gifts do not have to be expensive – I suggest you look for meaningful gifts. A thoughtful gift can be simple, meaningful and inexpensive. You can bake something or make their favorite dish that they can serve for their holiday meal. A book that they would love, a picture of something framed that means something to them so that they can look at everyday. It is the thought and the meaning behind it, not how much you spend.
- Teach your kids spending limits – Even if your kids still believe in Santa, you can give them limits and help them make better choices. They have to understand, even at a young age, they can’t just have everything they want. Santa works hard to get them their toys, and mommy and daddy work very hard to get them gifts too. The younger you teach them the better they will be with spending habits in the future.
- Plan your holiday meals – You should plan your holiday menu around the items you can purchase along the way on sale. Also, please make sure you clip coupons. It is also o.k. to use generic brands on a lot of your menu items. You can make a beautiful and delicious meal within your budget. You can also make it a holiday pot luck. Have everyone bring a dish and a dessert. This way the stress is not all on one person. The more variety, the more fun!
- Don’t break the bank on holiday parties – If I wanted to, I could literally go to an event every night for 2 weeks leading up to Christmas. First of all, it’s too exhausting. Second of all, it costs too much money. Forget about the weight situation! Choose the events you really want to attend and the ones that fit into your schedule. Buy holiday outfits that you can easily change up so you can wear them to more than one event. Pick the ones that cost little or nothing to attend. Pot luck parties are awesome because you just have to bring a dish to attend.
Always remember what the holiday season is about no matter what holiday you celebrate. It is not about how much you spend, how much shopping you do or how many parties you attend. It is all about being with the people you love and care about. The most rewarding and fun things you can do are best done with your friends and family. It is all about the quality time not the quantity of gifts you can buy them. Money and gifts are replaceable, your time and relationships aren’t. So get out those comfy holiday pajamas, make a fire and some comfort food and enjoy!