The holiday season is almost here, and for many of us, that means big celebrations and even bigger spending. According to ABC, agencies for consumer counseling generally see a 25% increase in the number of people looking for help in January. The festive spirit can easily convince many of us to give up on the savvy spending habits we’ve put in place for the rest of the year.
The good news is that you don’t have to dread January. There are plenty of ways that you can handle Christmas on a budget without having to compromise on a great time! Here are our top tips for handling Christmas on a budget.
1. Make a Shopping List
During the holiday season, store owners deliberately set their shops up to encourage excessive spending. Before you go out and get dazzled by the bright lights, it’s a good idea to think about making a list of the things you need. Write down all the people you plan on buying gifts for and decide what kind of thing each of those people would like. Don’t be afraid to go looking online for the best prices either!
2. Set a Spending Limit
Once you’ve decided who you’re going to be shopping for (don’t forget to cut people you don’t need to buy for), it’s time to reduce your spending by picking a price limit. It’s easy to get carried away when you see something that someone on your list would absolutely love, but a spending limit will help you to stay sensible. If it helps, let the other person know that you’re limiting your spending this year, so they know not to go over-the-top with your gift either.
3. Pay for Everything in Cash
A great way to make sure that you don’t accidentally go into debt during the festive season is to take the money you plan on using out of your bank account and pay for everything in cash. That way, you know exactly how much cash you have to spend on each person, and you really can’t afford to go over budget. If you see something that’s just slightly outside of your price limit, you can consider it, but you may need to cut down the money you spend on someone else.
4. Avoid Buying Gifts for Yourself
In the season of giving, it’s tempting to pick up a few treats for yourself when you’re busy filling your basket with amazing presents for everyone else. Unfortunately, this is one of the easiest ways to end up going over your budget. Every time you add something to your cart online, or in the store, ask yourself whether it’s something on your list. If there’s something you want, you can always add it to your wish list for other people to buy you.
5. Deal with your Debts
It’s tough to find the extra cash to splash in the festive season if you’re paying over the odds for your loan interest. If you’ve been spending huge amounts on your loans recently, consider going online to see whether you can get a better deal elsewhere. Switching to a different loan provider will help you to cut down on your interest costs and improve your chances of dealing with your debt faster. You might even find that the best way to save cash in the long-term is to consolidate your debts into a single deal with a lower APR.
6. Get Crafty
When it comes to giving gifts to your loved ones, remember that it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag. If you have a particular skill that you’ve been working on lately, like knitting or decoupage, consider giving something crafty as a gift, instead of buying something brand-new. This is a great way to save yourself some cash on retail gift prices. What’s more, since you’ll be at home making things, you won’t have time to go out and spend your cash on entertainment during the holidays either.
7. Buy Joint Gifts
Finally, if you’re living with someone, married, or you have a long-term partner, then don’t be afraid to buy gifts as a “pair” instead of as individuals. This could mean that you need to buy things for people you wouldn’t usually buy for, but everything you purchase will have it’s price cut in half too. Just don’t be surprised if people start to give you a single present for you and your other half instead of two gifts.