The holidays can be a great time of year. Most people spend time with their loved ones, making memories that last a lifetime. However, the holidays can also be a time when your finances take a hit. Gifts, holiday cards, and other expenses can hurt your carefully thought-out budget.
It doesn't have to be this way. Here are some tips so that you don't overspend this holiday season.
The first thing that you can do is to set a budget for your holidays. Figure out how much you can afford to spend over the next few months. It is even better if you set aside money all year long so that you don't overdo it with your holiday shopping.
Keep in mind that it isn't just gifts that get expensive. Many people travel to see family (which sometimes includes plane tickets), send out way too many Christmas cards, and cook elaborate food that you don't normally buy.
Gifts don't have to be expensive. You don't have to get your children, spouse, and parents the latest (and most expensive) electronics. Buy reasonable gifts that are within your budget. Don't forget to look at discount stores and even thrift stores. You can find great gifts at a decent price. Sometimes you can even find brand-new items at thrift stores!
Homemade gifts are often more special! Many people have a talent that can make great gifts. Can you knit some hats and scarves? Paint some nice pictures? You might want to frame a saying or Bible verse that means something to the person. Homemade jams, jellies, and cookies are also great gifts.
You also don't need to get everyone that you love a gift. You don't have to get a gift for everyone in your family, especially if you have multiple siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It just gets to be too much (and too expensive). Secret Santas can be a great way to decrease the number of gifts that you have to buy. You also shouldn't be ashamed to talk to relatives to help cut back on the number of gifts that are being exchanged.
You also should be careful about self-giving. Many people also tend to splurge on themselves while they are out shopping for others. This is even more common if the stores have really good deals. You could easily spend a hundred dollars (or more) on things that you like yourself during your holiday shopping.
Watch out for the deals. Stores are really good at getting you to hand over your hard-earned money. They have a lot of items for sale around the holidays so you buy a few extra gifts. Many also give you incentives to spend more. You might get a gift card if you spend so much money. It isn't hard to buy one or two more items to get ten dollars to spend on your next visit!
Also, watch out for the extras that you buy while you are out shopping. Most people love the whole shopping experience. However, the cost can add up. Many people stop to get drinks, coffee, snacks, pretzels, and even lunch with every shopping trip. Even spending one or two days can cost you another thirty or forty dollars if you are not careful.
The holidays can put a drain on your finances. However, it doesn't have to be that way. If you plan to save money all year long, it can really help. You also should cut back on the number of gifts you give. Don't be afraid to search in discount stores or even thrift stores to find the perfect gift. Make as many gifts as you can. These will often be treasured for years to come!
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