As we roll through this holiday season, I think we can all agree that it is a time for increased spending for most of us. First, there are gifts to be bought. Throw in any holiday parties you might be hosting. After that, you can throw in increased utility bills because of the weather and the Christmas lights in and around your house, and the list goes on and on.
Obviously, it is a time of year when we spend more money than normal.
During my struggle to get out of debt, this was always a time where I felt tempted to let my guard down. I mean, c’mon, it’s Christmas, right?
Who cares if you go out and buy the best food out there for your Christmas party, or let your utility bills run wild because of the lights and the cold weather? What’s the difference if you just go “nutso” on Christmas gifts, spending inordinate amounts of money on gifts for family and friends?
Reason being because, first, it Christmas. It’s the time of year to be in the spirit of giving, and why not just forget about a budget you might be on, a credit card that might be getting away from you, or anything else financially-related. Now is the time of year to forget about it all and just have fun and be in the Christmas spirit. Because on top of everything else, that tax check is just a few months away—we’ll just pay everything off with that.
This used to be my mindset. Until I decided that enough is enough.
So, am I advocating that we skimp on every little thing, micromanaging every extra purchase down to the last penny till the last day of the holiday season? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that let’s not forget that most of us are on a budget, most of us do not have an unlimited amount of expendable income, and if we just keep a little financial prudence and discretion somewhere in the back of our minds, then we should be able to lessen the burden just a little bit.
I mean, why get that January financial hangover every year, where we just can’t believe the money we spent and are scratching our heads wondering how we’re going to pay it off. Is this the memories you want for all holiday seasons to come?
While what I am about to give you is far from a comprehensive list to impact your holiday spending, I think there are at least a few good ideas in there that you may find useful. Of course, it’s just about too late to do anything about the money spent on gifts, but the holiday season isn’t over with and there might still be some time for us to keep our Christmas credit card bills from going through the roof.
Shopping—I try to buy as much during the year as I can, so there are some things that I just don’t have to buy. It sounds more difficult than it really is, but if you pay attention to your friends and family throughout the year, they will give you hints at things that would make good gifts. Find them on special, and you won’t even have to put them on your Christmas buying list in December.
Decorations—do your best to hold on to your decorations from year to year. Store them securely and they should keep forever. I mean, is it really necessary to go out and buy new decorations every year? How long is this stuff up, six weeks at the most?
Parties—you should be able to find cheaper alternatives all the way around, without disappointing your guests. Tempted to get a fruit tray, or cheese tray or whatever tray from your local store? Why not grab a decorative plate, a little leaf lettuce, buy the cheese/veggies/fruits yourself, and save some loot? I have priced these things out and you can save almost half by cutting the stuff up yourself.
Additionally, if entertaining friends, consider making it a pot-luck type of thing. That lessens the load financially, and allows your guests to bring some of their own favorites.
Beer/Wine/Liquor—Of course these are necessities for any party, but do you need to buy top-shelf stuff? I doubt anyone would mind if you purchased some middle-of-the-road brands instead. This can lead to major savings.
Utilities—don’t run Christmas lights all night. Monitor your thermostats. Better yet, already have your house winterized (insulation, etc) before you even get into the season.
Budget your gifts---Give yourself a limit and/or budget for what you’ll spend on friends and family. See how many you have to buy for and how much you can spend on each. At least then you’ll have a reference point.
Entertainment—we found quite a few free light shows in local neighborhoods and even one at a hospital. We decided against the one that cost $40 to attend. There are plenty of free things to enjoy during Christmas.
Credit Card Bills—don’t look at your tax return check as a bill paying option for your Christmas spending. With this mindset, of course you’ll spend more than you would if you didn’t have that check coming. Rather, look at your return money as extra income to invest and get it to start generating income for you. You can dip into it a little, but start to view it as an investment vehicle rather than a fund to pay off all your holiday cheer.
I feel that I enjoy the holiday season with my friends and family as much as anyone. My family gives out good gifts and we throw good parties. I just try to keep somewhere tucked away in my head the fact that all this stuff will have to be paid for, and why not exercise a little restraint while still partaking in all the festivities that Christmas has to offer.
Enjoy your holiday season!! And I hope you found this helpful.
If you’d like to learn more ways to improve your personal economy, visit me at my blog Yourfinances101.com/blog
Causes David Bakke Supports
Anyone's desire to get out of debt!
I also generously support The Salvation Army and the Vietnam Veterans Association.