Many people would say that the most expensive season on the calendar is Christmas. That’s because this season is when people spend a lot of money on decorations, gifts, food, festivities, and parties. Not to mention that Christmas is only a week away from New Year’s Day, which also calls for another expense. What’s more, many stores also encourage people to go shopping more frequently than average by hosting annual sales with massive discounts.
As much as the holiday season is the time for merriment, some individuals and households find it to be another source of financial stress due to a huge bite it gets from their bank accounts. But the truth is, your bank accounts and your financial status shouldn’t matter when it comes to enjoying the holiday season. You can still celebrate Christmas just like the rest without undergoing financial stress through proper planning and financial management.
For your guide, here are six tips to help you manage your holiday expenses and have better control over your money and budget:
1. Have A Holiday Budget
Your holiday budget will be your best friend as this will help you keep your expenses under control. So, take time to figure out how much you’re willing to spend in cash for the holidays. Avoid including or using a credit card in your budget as it’s often the culprit of overspending. By paying cash, you’re more in control and more aware of how much you’re already spending while shopping.
Furthermore, make sure your holiday budget already covers all the expenses for the holidays such as gifts, food, decorations, and parties (if you’re hosting one). And while you have a budget for all these expenses, it’s also ideal that you set a specific budget for each category. For instance, if you’re planning to buy Christmas lights or a Christmas tree, make sure it fits your budget created for decorations. Meanwhile, if the total budget goes over what you can afford, find ways to trim it down.
2. Shop Early
The advantage of shopping early for Christmas is there’s a higher chance you get to enjoy huge deals and discounts. Some stores and malls tend to offer discounts or host Black Friday sales to entice early holiday shoppers. So, if you’re aiming to purchase lots of stuff this Christmas without hurting your budget, then consider being an early bird shopper this year.
3. Set A Budget For Every Person On Your Shopping List
Knowing those people on your shopping list can actually help manage your holiday expenses. While there’s nothing wrong with being generous, remind yourself that it’s not necessary to shop gifts for every single person you know. This means you don’t need to shop gifts for your neighbors or even your best friend’s siblings, so don’t feel obliged.
Instead, when creating a list of names for your shopping list, focus on giving gifts to the essential people in your life such as your kids, spouse, parents, or siblings. If you still wish to give something nice to the people you know, you can give them cards instead.
After having the final list of names for your gift shopping, it’s time to set a budget for each one of them. Having an individual budget per person will keep you on track with your holiday expenses.
4. Get Creative
If you’re on a tight budget for gift shopping, you can always get creative by focusing on homemade or DIY gifts instead of store-bought ones. For instance, you can create a homemade candle or jewelry for your parents, pick flowers from your garden for your spouse, or create a DIY toy for your kids.
Meanwhile, you can also give your time and effort as a gift for them such as making them dinner, cleaning their home, teaching them a new skill, or talking to their pet for a walk. Remember, gift-giving isn’t about how expensive the gift is, but it’s about spreading joy and thoughtfulness.
5. Buy In Bulk
One way to lessen your holiday expenses on food is by buying in bulk. Most stores would offer a discounted price for customers who purchase foods in bulk than people who buy in individual pieces. Just make sure you also have a planned Christmas dinner menu so you’ll know which ingredients you should buy. Otherwise, you might end up having food ingredients and find out later on that they’re not part of your planned dinner.
6. Utilize Your Old Decorations
Instead of buying new Christmas decorations every year, opt to reuse the old ones you had last year. With a bit of cleaning and polishing, those old decorations from your attic will surely look new again. You can also do a bit of DIY such as adding real elements (e.g., poinsettia flowers).
It’s easy to get sidetracked with your holiday shopping expenses if you don’t have a budget in mind beforehand. So, before jumping into the stores, go through these tips first to help you manage your holiday expenses successfully.