The holidays are right around the corner. Although it’s an exciting time that is usually spent with friends and family, it is also the time of year for gifts, food, and parties which all cost money.
To please loved ones and celebrate the occasion, many people overextend themselves financially and end up heralding in the New Year with a mound of bills. In this article, we will explore how to avoid debt pitfalls during the holidays.
There is no reason why you cannot have a joyful holiday while spending wisely and saving money. It takes a bit of planning and some self-control, but you can rein in frivolous spending.
Create a Holiday Budget
No one likes to budget. It’s not very much fun to sit and work the numbers and feels a bit like doing taxes. However, it is imperative to create a personal spending plan for the holidays so you can stay on track with your money.
You need to know how much you can afford to spend before you start shopping any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
Determine your holiday expenses and set a limit with a strict budget. Keep track of every penny that you spend so you don’t have to use your credit cards or drain your savings account.
Tip: When you factor in expenses make sure to include travel expenses, charitable donations and holiday parties or themed activities.
Create a Gift List
A gift list is a ‘must-have’. You’ll choose certain gifts for each member of your family and friends. Then stick to the list.
Planning before you shop is the best way to spend less and save time. You’ll do your gift research online and be ready to hit the stores or shop from various websites.
In some situations, you might have to pick alternative gifts just in case something that you wanted to purchase isn’t available.
If you do need to buy an alternative present stay within the price range you have budgeted for the gift.
Tip: Use a shopping app while researching your gift list to help you find the lowest price for the item you’re looking for.
Holiday Savings Year-Round
It is never too early to start shopping for the holidays. In fact, you’ll probably score the best savings earlier in your shopping adventures.
Sometimes the closer to the holidays the more the prices increase so shopping early has its financial perks.
A holiday savings account is a great way to stay focused and avoid overspending.
Tip: Frequent clearance sections of stores and websites throughout the year to find gifts at a reduced price.
Using a Credit Card for Gift Buying
Many people have a habit of using credit cards during the holidays. However, problems tend to arise because when you use credit it is easy to overspend.
If you already have a budget and plan on paying cash you can use credit cards to your advantage.
Credit cards that offer rewards when you use them can end up saving you a few dollars. For example credits cards that offer a percentage of cash back for purchases.
Remember: You should never charge more on your credit card than you can pay off the following month.
Tip: Need to make a purchase with a credit card that you cannot pay off at the end of the month? Choose a card with 0% financing such as store cards or one that is offering a promotional rate.
Avoid Potential Impulse Buying
Impulse buying can quickly destroy your holiday budget and throw your entire savings plan into a tailspin.
It is imperative that you stick to your shopping list and avoid temptation.
Impulse buys are tempting because it is probably a sale on something that you feel that you simply must have but you need to maintain self-control.
Tip: Do not wait until the last minute to holiday shop or things might be sold out or you could spend extra.
Think Outside the Box
If purchasing a gift for a friend or family member is going to put a strain on your budget try to think outside the box.
You could give the gift of your time by helping them run errands, babysit their children or pets and even offer to do household chores.
A low cost yet thoughtful gift such as purchasing a picture frame, adding custom decorations then place a favorite photo of the person you will be giving the gift too.
Another low cost idea could be to go to the dollar store purchase a basket then fill it will a person’s favorite snacks or the ingredients for their favorite dish.
Tip: Researching ideas online for low cost gift ideas may deliver the perfect result.
If you do find yourself in financial trouble when the New Year comes around you may want to consider your options for debt relief.
You may find that a viable solution such as debt consolidation or reorganizing your debts with Chapter 13 bankruptcy would work well for your situation.
Oberhauser Law offers free consultations that will allow you to discuss your debt relief options with an experienced attorney.