Updated: Dec 7, 2019
This is a problem that is far too common. You create a budget and follow it as closely as you can for the year and then Christmas happens. All the goals that you had for a vacation in the new year, or finally starting 2020 out on the right foot are back to looking unachievable. As hard as it is to believe there is a way to enjoy the holidays without that sinking feeling when you look at your statement after Christmas.
Create a list of gifts
Why re-invent the wheel? It is proven that writing a list goes a long way to keeping true to keeping our spending down. Whether it’s a grocery list for that dinner you’re hosting or a list of what gifts you need and for who. This is a sure-fire way to make sure that all the science that goes into retail and e commerce cross selling doesn’t get you.
Speaking of hosting a dinner, potlucks are a great way to keep the expenses down while also creating a fun environment to have all your guests show case their signature dishes and be a part of the dinner. The added bonus is if you host you get to keep the left overs! No need to prepare lunch for another week.
Leave your credit card at home!
Now that you have your list of gifts, we know exactly how much we need to buy them all (the power of a quick google search) Try to avoid bringing your credit card and putting these gifts on it. Credit cards can be a slippery slope during the holidays but if you must use one, I recommend using a cash back card to at least off set this a bit.
A Gift for both of you - Coupons!
If you are shopping online there are some apps out there that will search for coupon codes automatically for you and apply them for some quick savings. Check out Ebates, RetailmeNot, and Honey. If you are shopping in stores then hold onto your receipt! A lot of stores now have a 30-day price guarantee, If the item you are buying today goes on sale within the next month you can bring your receipt back and get the difference returned to you. Of course, there are lots of rules around this depending what you are buying, make sure you ask the cashier for their policy.
Doing Secret Santa has been becoming a popular trend now with increasing expenses around the holidays. Instead of buying gifts for everyone in your house, throw some names in a hat and draw out Secret Santa for some fun and it forces us to set a spending limit and get creative with our ideas. Isn’t this what the holidays is all about?
Use up your left-over gift cards
Check your wallet for all those gift cards that you have had over the year. Sometimes you may have left over money on them that can help you decide what to get and also keep you under your budget!
Check out blogs for free events
There are lots of great things to do during the holiday season if you want to get out of the house a bit. Dailyhive has a great segment of what to do in the city. Lots of these items can be free or very low cost. Spending time with your loved ones can be one of the best gifts you can have. Alternatively, if you want to stay in, there are always great classic Christmas movies on TV that can be nostalgic and the perfect end to a cold night in.
To summarize, the holidays can be a calm and enjoyable time. If you want to avoid the mall during the busiest times fighting for parking spots and the last item in stock. Plan ahead and follow these steps and the real gift for yourself is not having to restart your financial plan on January 1st.
If you would like to hear more, check out Episode 8 of the 20/20 Podcast (link below) where I got to sit down with Dr. Harbir Sian and talk not only about Holiday Shopping, but also about Student Loans, and Starting a Business.