With Halloween right around the corner, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, millions of consumers will be spending a lot more than normal. According to the NRF’s 2013 Monthly Consumer Survey, holiday spending increased to $602 billion last year. With this increase in spending, there is an increase of debt through credit card usage and taking out loans. However, one doesn’t have to be in automatic debt as soon as the holiday season arrives if you are careful.
The following are five ways to enjoy the holiday season without financially burdening yourself.
1. Itemize expected expenses
Creating a master list per holiday will definitely make you aware of how much you are spending or could potentially spend. Some examples are:
- Halloween (how much do you plan to spend on costumes, house decorations, candy for the trick or treaters)
- Thanksgiving (how much do you plan to spend on hospitality including turkey, drinks, pumpkin pie)
- -Christmas (how much do you plan to spend on gifts, Christmas tree, and decorations)
2. Make a budget
Now that you have all your expected expenses, it is important to make a budget for each holiday and stick to that budget. You should limit yourself to a set amount per holiday. These budgets should be set in stone and concrete. For example, for Thanksgiving, set your budget to $500 if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner – this should include ALL expenses related to this holiday (including food, beverages, decorations, etc).
3. Look at past spending habits
If you have access to your credit card statements from last year’s holiday season, then you should take a look and really dig into where and when you spent the most money. If your bill during Christmas was quite high, take a look and see what you could potentially cut back on. Were you too generous with presents for friends? If so, then try giving something a bit less or homemade. Looking at your past spending habits will help you determine what you can change this year and help with your budget.
4. Go for other alternatives
The holiday season doesn’t have to be about buying expensive gifts. Try something different like gifting an experience instead of something tangible. Take a friend to a museum instead of purchasing something. Or try homemade presents like a pie or limoncello (there are plenty of recipes on the internet). You could also re-gift presents that you received before but don’t like. The recipient will never know it’s a re-gift while you get to save some money.
5. Celebrate the real meaning of the holiday
Thanksgiving isn’t about the day after Thanksgiving sale at all major retailers. It is about spending time with friends and family. Christmas isn’t about the shop til you drop mentality either. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus (if you are religious) and it is about spending quality time with friends and family. Imagine a holiday season without elaborate gift giving or the need to spend money. If you reflect on the true meaning of holidays, then you wont be so tempted to go out and shop like the masses.