If it’s getting to you, coming up with ideas for just-right gifts compounded with worry about what the spending will do to your finances when the holidays are over, read on for eight tips on how to cope.
Set limits on spending. Look on it as an opportunity to get your budget in shape. Let reason reign. It’s a simple fact that you can’t spend more than is available and stay on an even keel. Your gift-buying budget just can’t be allowed to dip into the bills you must routinely pay. If you feel you must have a little more to spend, it has to come from such things as eating out, entertainment, etc. that are expendable.
Make your own “naughty and nice” lists. You aren’t Santa. You don’t have to give to everyone in the world. If you still compelled to spread holiday cheer, bake some cookies, make some fudge or put your talents to work on simple gifts that don’t deplete the budget.
Budget realistically. Consider your place in life at the moment. If you are paying off student (or other) loans, for instance, let that guide your buying choices. Remember that your parents and other older people on your list got where they are through years of working and being careful of spending. Likely, their gift-giving was more modest then.
Coupon. The stores are full of bargains for the holiday shopping frenzy, but don’t overlook the potential for additional savings in online purchases by doing a quick web search for coupon codes for your favorite online outlets. Look through the advertising that arrives in your mailbox during the holidays. Comparison shop for the items you intend to buy.
Give time instead of gifts. Some of your family and friends would value a visit that includes little gifts and lots of hugs. Consider calling cards that will give them the opportunity to chat despite the miles between you.
Develop better spending habits. For every dollar you spend on gifts, try to squeeze out a way to offset that dollar by economizing somewhere else in the budget. If you can keep the budget even, there will be more to save at the end of the season. Or put the difference into a special savings account that will ease your way through the next holiday surge.
Give personalized gifts that are of more value to the recipient than something expensive but not so meaningful. If you have special talents, share them. Bake a cake or pie for a family member who is kitchen “impaired.” Give a friend a kitchen tool and a recipe for something he or she particularly likes. Make a personalized card – anything that speaks of you.
Organize group volunteer efforts. It’s likely your friends are coping with the same holiday challenges you are. Get together and spend a day at a local charity instead of giving gifts. You’ll spend quality time together and get an infusion of the spirit of the holiday. Take photos of the volunteer project and share them after the fact.
Bottom line: Don’t let debt rob you of the joy of sharing. A year-long headache as you struggle to repay is not worth it. If you can come out of the spending season with your finances intact, it will be the greatest gift you can give yourself.