The holiday season often seems like the busiest (and most expensive) time of the year. Presents, parties—the extra expenses can really add up! We’ve put together a few tips to help you manage all the extras and enjoy the season.
Set a budget: It sounds obvious, but it’s something many people simply don’t do. Decide how much you can reasonably spend on each person on your list, whether it’s $5, $50 or $500—and stick to it! When you are calculating how much you can spend, don’t forget to factor in the other hidden expenses of the holiday: extra groceries for big meals and guests; charitable donations; a new outfit for your company’s holiday party; decorations; boarding your pets if you’re traveling. These costs can sneak up on you so make sure you budget for them!
Make a list: And check it twice—just like Santa! Once you’ve established a budget and made a thorough list of all the expenses you’ll have whether they are gifts or greeting cards, mark off each one as you purchase it. And don’t be tempted to splurge on something extra at the last minute. If you love the excitement of last-minute shopping, save something small specifically for that time: stocking stuffers or sweet treats for the neighbors for example.
Track spending: If you don’t effectively track your spending, setting a budget won’t be much of a help. Consider opening a separate bank account for holiday expenses. You can have money direct deposited all year long, so you’ll have funds available when it’s time to shop. Keep your bank’s app on your phone, too. This allows you to check your balance and track spending anywhere, anytime. Even when you’re standing in line at the mall!
Focus on being present, not giving presents: Traditions are what make the holidays so special. But when you look back over your happiest holiday memories—did they involve gifts or did they involve spending time with people you care about? Traditions aren’t about what you spend. They are about time spent together. Enjoy an afternoon baking and decorating cookies; host a holiday movie marathon; go caroling in your neighborhood or spend an afternoon volunteering.
The bottom line? The holidays should be a happy time spent with friends and family. Make sure you enjoy the season and avoid overspending!