Keeping Your Finances in Check Over the Holidays
Author: Alyssa Craig
Sleigh bells, jolly laughter and sugar plum dreams mean one thing: Santa Claus is coming to town! While this is a time of joy and love, it is also peppered with stress and worry, especially when it comes to finances. Between presents for your family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors, to hosting holiday parties to the cost of lights and decorations, the holidays can certainly weigh on your pocketbook.
The key to enjoying the festivities without the added stress of going into debt is to be smart and plan ahead. Check out some of the following suggestions to keep your bank account out of the red through the end of the year.
Make a List and Stick to It
Take the time to think ahead and make a list of each of the people you want to buy presents for this year. Once you have a list, take your planning to the next level and decide what it is you would like to give them. This will be especially helpful in a variety of ways, including:
- Removing the possibility of overspending or buying more presents for any one person than you intended.
- Removing the risk of impulse purchases.
- Allowing you to price shop so you can get the best deal on each gift, including giving you the chance to watch for special holiday sales.
- Making sure you do not forget anyone and cause yourself additional stress.
Set Aside the Money
Once you have set a budget for the amount you are willing and able to spend on the holidays this year, find a way to set it aside. Easily keep track of your money now and throughout the year by employing these tips.
- Set aside a special pot of money just for the holidays. Whether this is a bank account you put money in specifically for the holidays or a literal jar you have in your home that you periodically deposit money into, keep your holiday money separate from all of your other money. This will help you know exactly what you have available to spend and keep you from spending money that should be going toward more important things, like the mortgage and food.
- Only use cash for your holiday spending. If you would rather draw the money out of your normal bank account, withdraw the money into cash and know that is all you have to spend. Being able to visually see the amount of money you have left to spend will help you to make economical choices. Once the money is gone, you are done spending for the holidays.
Look for Alternatives to Purchased Gifts
If the wallet is tight this year, consider other options for gifts you may give rather than ones purchased in the store. For a neighbor you may offer to walk their dog or shovel their sidewalks. If you are making holiday treats, make a few extra and take some treats to friends or to the office. Encourage children to be creative and make each other homemade gifts.
Let Someone Else Host This Year
While presents are a costly part of the holiday season, another stress on your finances is holiday parties and dinners. Purchasing the food, drinks, decorations, and outfits for these events while entertaining can quickly add up to a pretty penny. Consider allowing (or even asking!) someone else to host the party this year. If you still find yourself playing host, look for ways to ease the burden on yourself by making it a potluck meal or a BYOB.
Save Your Receipts
By saving all of your receipts, you can then log your spending when you get home in a notebook or spreadsheet. This will help you to keep a running total and assist in staying within your budget. Another less thought of reason for keeping receipts is that some stores will reimburse you for the difference if an item goes on sale after you purchase it. While this is not true of all stores, it never hurts to ask and you will need your receipt to get your money back!
If after all you can do you still find yourself in financial trouble over the holidays, the last thing you want to worry about is losing your home. Luckily, there are tactics you can use to work through this hard time, such as free or very low cost housing counseling. Using such resources can help alleviate financial stress and help you to still provide a happy holiday.
Through the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, use the tactics above to help your spending stay worry free and help you enter the new year feeling in control of your finances.
Disclosure: I received no form of compensation for this post nor am I the author of the post. This is a Guest Post.