Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? While the holidays can be a season of spending time with loved ones and enjoying good food, they can also be a time of overspending. There’s a lot of pressure around the holidays to spend money. It’s not just family and friends. Retailers do everything in the power to get you to spend just a little more this year.
How do you start the new year in good financial shape? Here are four tips.
1. Hold a Secret Santa Gift Exchange
Do you have a large, extended family? Instead of buying gifts for everyone and spending a small fortune, why not do a Secret Santa gift exchange instead? If you’ve never held a Secret Santa, here are the basic rules. You write everyone’s names on a piece of paper and put them in a hat (in Santa’s hat to be even more festive). Whoever’s name you draw, you buy a gift for them. It’s as simple as that. Instead of putting your name on the present, you give it anonymously.
Secret Santas can be a lot of fun and cost a lot less than traditional gift giving. Just don’t forget to set a spend limit of say $20, to avoid overspending.
2. Set a Holiday Spending Limit and Track Spending
A common New Year’s Resolution is to get out of debt. While I’m all for setting financial goals, wouldn’t it be better to start the new year not in debt? The easiest way to do that is by setting a spending limit. Similar to Secret Santa, you want to set a spending limit per person. Tally up your spending limit to come up with your holiday spending budget.
While setting a budget is great, it’s only helpful if you don’t go over your spending limit. How do you avoid this? By tracking your spending. There are many ways do to that from smartphone apps to Mint. Figure out the way that works best for you and stick to it.
3. Avoid Last Minute Shopping by Planning Ahead
Don’t wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping. By planning ahead, you can avoid scrambling at the last minute on Christmas eve for holiday presents. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the perfect times to pick up gifts for loved ones and get a good deal. If you wait until the night before Christmas, all the sale items may be sold out. You may end up spending more and not even get the gifts you really wanted to buy.
When you’re at the checkout, don’t forget to ask for a gift receipt. A gift receipt lets the gift recipient return or exchange the gift. This especially comes in handy for clothing that may not fit.
Not sure what gift to buy friends or family? Try a gift card from a favourite retailer or a prepaid credit card.
4. Use Deal Websites to Your Benefit, Not Detriment
Deal websites can be a great way to save money when used wisely. These websites let you know about the latest deals available in store and online. While saving money is great, you can run into problems if you become addicted to them. This especially becomes a concern around the holiday season, when it seems like there are at least five good deals every day.
How do you avoid overspending? By only looking for deals on items you were already planning to buy. Don’t tempt yourself by signing up for newsletter. Unsubscribe because you’ll only end up spending money you don’t have.
And most of all have fun. The holidays only happen once a year. Cherish and enjoy time with love ones. Happy holidays from our family to yours!