The holidays will be here soon and they are a “season”, not just a singular day or event; and, there can be several events! There may be parties and celebrations where you are expected to bring a dish, and/or provide a gift(s) and also meet family and friends out for lunches and dinners. The costs add up!
The holiday season can also include other celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries or even weddings. Finally, winter is the time where added expenses can come into play such as higher utility (e.g., heat, electric) bills, and unexpected car expenses like batteries and tires that need replacing.
How do you cover these expenses without completely exhausting your budget and getting yourself in post-holiday debt?
Consider several of the suggestions below to help reduce the expense and stress of the holiday season. Ideally, an early and clear plan communicated to your family and friends can help a lot!
- Have the list of WHO you will shop for and stick to it! Make agreements with your family and friends as to WHO you will buy for and HOW MUCH you will each spend. It’s very tempting to want to buy “a little something” for others, especially items under $20, but it adds up fast!
- If you have large extended family or circle of friends, pick ONE name for each group.
- Discuss possible family gifts that you all will enjoy. Start collecting change as a family starting each early each year (January) to help reduce the cost of bigger family gifts. If your children have part-time jobs, ask them for $2-5 a paycheck to help support a significant family gift.
- Shopping for items (e.g., at a spring craft show, summer fairs) throughout the year makes a BIG difference! There are sales all year round! It is just a little pre-planning to build your gift inventory throughout the year.
- Buy items for your food pantry early, ideally when they are on sale or when you have more spare funds. If your extended family knows you bring a signature dish every year, consider buying non-perishable ingredients early on and then place them in a separate storage area for the holidays.
- Buy food staples at discount stores such as Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Price Rite.
- Buy food items in bulk, if possible.
- Don’t feel obligated to attend EVERY holiday invite you receive.
- Open a separate bank account to systematically save for the holidays. Set aside a manageable amount of money for a bank or credit union account that is offering a high interest rate such as a money market account or a short-term (e.g., 3-6 months) Certificate of Deposit so you have your money in time to shop without incurring any penalties.
- Consider making or even baking some of your gifts. Personalized gifts are very memorable. Add a small ($5-$10) gift card if you like.
- Shop at small businesses in your area that may have unique and reasonably priced gifts.
- Try not to get too caught up in Black Friday deals. Many times, people spend far more on other items than they actually save by battling the crowds and spending a lot of time and gas.
Keep a look out for Budgeting for the Holidays Part Two coming soon!
If you’re dealing with high interest debt payments as well, see what you can save with Parachute’s Debt Management Plan https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/dmp-calculator/
Would you like to meet one-on-one with one of our Financial Counselors to talk specifically about your budget? Check out our Financial Coaching Session https://parachutecreditcounseling.org/services/credit-budget-counseling/#financial-coaching or call 716-712-2060.