20 Nov Have Yourself a Financially Responsible Little Christmas
The kids have made it back to school. Vacations are over. The fall jackets are out and bathing suits are packed away. But there’s no time to sit back and relax. Before you know it, you’ll be cleaning up turkey and setting up a Christmas tree.
Now you have to think about gift buying for the holidays. This is the time of year when many families can go overboard with spending, and studies show we’ll spend more this year than in years past. In fact, the average person will spend over $1,000 this year on gifts and other holiday activities. When you consider that Americans also ended up $1,000 in debt after the last holiday season, you can see how easy it is to let spending get away from you. How can you enjoy sleigh rides, give gifts, host feasts, and make the season special, all without going into debt? Here’s how to get started:
Organize Your Current Finances
Consider this a big gift to the family: getting your finances in order. You can then head into your holiday spending with a better grasp on your financial position, which will help you curb the tendency to overdo it. Beyond getting a grip for the holidays, you can also set future goals that will put you in a better position to enjoy holidays and vacations even more in the years to come by working to eliminate your debt and build savings and retirement funds.
Set a Budget
As with anything you buy, don’t look at anything until you know how much you can spend. Hopefully, you already have an annual budget with a gifts category built in, so take a look at it and see what you will be able to afford to spend this season.
Consider Experiences Over Gifts
This is the time of year to be with loved ones, but that doesn’t mean you have to shower them with things. Consider planning some time to share together for the holidays rather than buying gifts. This could be the perfect gift for your siblings, parents, and even your kids. Memories will last a lot longer than that new video game console you’ve been eyeing.
Shop Around and Use Discounts
Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best possible prices, and keep in mind that might be found online rather than in a store. You can also keep an eye out for discounts and coupons for those must-buy gifts for the kids or your spouse. Remember: You’ve set a budget and you need to stick to it. Price shopping and discounts will help you do that.
Also, a lot of stores and restaurants offer free bonus gift cards during the holiday season when you purchase gift cards as holiday gifts. Those freebies add up! They can be grouped to make a generous, while still free, gift for a teacher, stylist, paperboy, bus driver, or other service provider. Also, consider cashing in rewards you have at this time for loyalty cards or credit cards as a gift to someone.
Get Ready for Next Year
It might be a little too late for this year, but make a New Year’s resolution to do your holiday shopping throughout the year. The holidays aren’t about cramming all your loving thoughts into a few days of shopping. If you’re out shopping in March, and you see something that you know your sister would love, get it now and put it away for Christmas! Just make sure you either wrap and tag it or at least label it, and put it in a set place for presents so you don’t forget.
Even if you haven’t been saving throughout the year, your family can still enjoy a season like any other when you work it just right. Just be sure to start next year off with a plan. If you need some guidance with that plan, we’re here to help.