Smart Holiday Spending

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The festive season a time for spending. There are gifts to be bought, parties to host and vacations to go to: all of which can drain your finances if you are not careful. How then, can you have a fabulous holiday without getting into debt?

Holidays are meant to be fun

But all too often for many of us, this beautiful part of the year is marked by financial stress and anxiety. We tend to forget that holidays are about spending quality time with our loved ones and instead focus on spending money. Then come January,  we are cursing the holidays for the financial hole they dug us into. With a little work,   it can be fairly easy to save yourself from overspending this holiday season and still have a fabulous time. Follow these 10 tips to keep your spending in check.

Have a budget and stick to it

The simple act of making a   budget can help you spend your hard-earned money wisely. You might want to establish an estimated spending cap and then make your expenses to fit within that. To figure how much you’ll spend, look back and calculate how much you spend on last year’s holiday season. Brainstorm on your expected expenses and draw the budget in order of priority. You can cut out whatever you feel isn’t necessary. Don’t forget to factor in ‘little expenses’ such as gift wrapping. It is important to leave some wiggle room on your budget as some items might turn out to be more expensive than you had anticipated. Keep on revisiting your budget to make sure that you’re spending within your means.

Focus on experiences

Your loved ones will remember the times you spend together, not how much money you spend. Make the holidays about having fun spending time together. It might be as easy and cheap as having a picnic lunch in the park, taking long leisurely walks, playing board games, or watching a movie at home. Find fun, cheap activities happening around you and take part in them. Make it a family tradition to participate in church activities and charitable community activities over the holidays.

Vacation nearer home

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg traveling to exotic destinations you can’t really afford. There are great destinations right here in and near our country which you might want to explore instead. Research on such destinations and decide which one is most suitable for you. A  plus is that most local tourist destinations have discounted charges for citizens and package deals. Additionally, the money you might have spent on a plane ticket can come in handy for other items on your budget.

Save on food

Plan meals in advance and buy non- perishable staples such as flour and sugar in bulk early. If you are hosting a meal, focus on creative recipes which you don’t have to spend much on but will still leave your guests impressed. Cut down on meat dishes as they tend to be more expensive and not necessarily healthier. Choose to eat a meal at home as opposed to eating out. You can go out for treats such as ice cream instead.

Avoid impulse spending

This will be a big challenge, especially when there so many irresistible holidays offers around. Have a clear budget and a list of the things you need to buy and try your best to stick to it.  You may afford to splurge on a small impulse purchase. Occasionally. But if it is a big purchase which you feel can’t wait, you might have to compensate for it by cutting out other expenses from your budget.

Be thoughtful and creative with gifts

When it comes to the art of gifting, think carefully about the individual the gift is going to and what they mean to you. You don’t have to buy an expensive gift for it to be appreciated. Thoughtful creative gifts, such as a scrapbook of shared memories and other handmade gifts, are always treasured. Sure, creative gifts take time and effort but that is what makes them so special. You can save even more by re-gifting (giving out gifts given to you), if you feel the person you are gifting will appreciate the item more than you do.

Get kids’ input on gifts

Kids can change their minds about gifts without notice and leave you feeling bad for getting them the wrong gift. You might even find yourself having to buy additional gifts you hadn’t budgeted for. Ask them what they want, within reason, before you shop for gifts. If you don’t want to spoil the element of surprise, have them give you a list of five items and choose from it. You can even negotiate with older kids to buy the gift in January when the items are on back-to-school offers.

Shop in cash

Paying for your purchases in cash is old fashioned but it makes you think twice before spending on unnecessary items. When shopping in cash and you run out of money,  you will know that you are out of money. If you have to use plastic money, it is advisable to go for debit cards rather than credit cards. This will protect you from spending money that isn’t yours to spend.

Remember the reason for the season

Keeps the spiritual message of the holiday in mind. This is the time to reflect back on the year, to be grateful for what you have, and to spread the holiday cheer.

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