By Pamela Chan • November 13, 2017
The holidays are just around the corner and though you may think that it’s the most wonderful time of the year—filled with decoration, endless gifting, and mugs of piping hot cocoa -- that wallet of yours may feel otherwise.
Like it or not, Americans spend a significant amount of extra money during the holiday season. For those who are not hosting or staying close to home, even domestic airline tickets and other traveling fees typically add up to wreak havoc on that bank account.
To keep that warmth and holiday cheer lingering around, it is important to have a holiday budge. Without this, spending can likely get way out of hand and cause debt in what should be a new and better upcoming year.
This year, get a head start on saving for the holidays with a full-proof budget and savings plan. Avoid a post-holiday credit card hangover and work positively towards a long-term goal of building upon your savings instead of wringing them dry. Shop smart, be happy, and truly enjoy the holidays without landing out in the poorhouse. Here are some ways to help you save for the holidays.
Don’t have enough to cover your holiday budget? Armor up and plan way beforehand. Make a long, detailed list of all the people you will be buying for-- then review that list over to decide how much you’ll be able to spend on each person. Once you settle on a dollar amount, try focusing on the amount you can spend and not what you will buy.
Basically, shopping without a budget is a recipe for disaster, whether it’s just for gifts or that Thanksgiving dinner. Before setting out on any shopping spree, set a clear plan and be sure to stick to it. Remember also not to overlook the little extras when planning like holiday party favors, home decorations, postage for Christmas cards, and even the cost of boarding a pet if you happen to travel.
And, of course, once that list is finished, it is time to start the fun joyous task of shopping. Just remember to know when to stop and when you need to be finished. Avoid at all costs stopping by the mall “just to see what they have,” as it can lead to poorly planned purchases as well as a bombed budget.
Get over the glitz and go for meaning instead-- remember the reason for the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message up front and center is a good antidote to the holiday “gimmie gimmie gimmie.”
Try spending quality time with the family instead of spending weekends leading up to Christmas scouring the mall for things to give or goodies you hope to receive. Perhaps even opt for nonmonetary gifts to cut expenses. Give the valuable gift of your time, get crafty and creative with DIY presents, use the Secret Santa method, or maybe even offer to do some free babysitting or chores. Many times, the best gifts aren’t things.
The holidays often serve up the best dishes and the tastiest treats of the entire year. From shopping, prepping, and cooking, to having the entire family around the dinner table for a hearty meal, there’s nothing that we don’t love about the most fa-la-la fantastic time of year. All that food, however, especially for those who are hosting, can become expensive—not to mention the décor and activities on the side.
When family gatherings at your house are unavoidable and when buying food for about thirty hungry people is utterly necessary, the only way to dodge out of getting seriously pricey would be to embrace the idea of potluck assignments. Let others know that you are making the main dish but they can help with sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks. It’s simple, it’s easy, and allows everyone to contribute.
In terms of all those holiday cards you’ll be dishing out, opt to save the planet and save your wallet by going the digital route. E-cards are free — or usually only cost a couple of dollars and do not require postage. Select versions even play music, making them a fun not to mention incredibly low-cost way to catch up with far-flung family and friends.
Whenever and wherever a deal can be scored, jump on it fully and quickly.
Pamela Chan Pamela Chan is a writer and an actress who is known as much for her soft spoken-ness as she is for her high-pitched squeals. A native of sunny Southern California, she graduated from USC Annenberg’s Arts Journalism Program in 2014 and has since then, been lending her thoughts to various media outlets.