How to Avoid Overspending During the Holidays
The holidays are approaching, and for many people this means holiday shopping. Whether your family exchanges gifts, or gets together to eat lots of food, participating in holiday celebrations also often means spending money.
Getting swept up in the holiday hustle and bustle is easy, which can lead to overspending – sometimes by a lot. To avoid falling into the spending trap, it’s a smart idea to take some time before the holiday season to make a plan for yourself.
Create a Budget (And Stick To It)
The first part is fairly easy, but the second part can be trickier. Examine your finances and work up a budget for how much you can reasonably spend during the holidays, without impacting your other major expenses. If you are living at home, determine what you can spend without impacting your ability to save for the future or buy your own day-to-day necessities. If you are at college or university and living independently, make sure your allotted holiday spending won’t impact your ability to pay for your essential living expenses including rent, food, utilities, and school materials.
Sticking to a budget isn’t always easy, especially when there are lots of holiday activities that you want to participate in. To help you stay on top of your spending, make sure you have easy access to your budget so that you always know how much you’ve spent and what you have left available. You can do this through an app on your smartphone, a spreadsheet on your computer, or even a poster on the wall. However you track your spending, be sure to keep it up to date.
Here are three ways to keep your costs down over the holidays:
1. Consider Making Handmade Gifts and Food
In many cases, if you can make something yourself, it will be less expensive to buy the materials than to buy a completed item. Your family and friends will also appreciate the effort of handmade gifts and homemade treats such as cookies. You can also turn these into group activities and make part of the gift the time you spend with the people in your life.
2. Look For Sales and Deals
If you do want to shop, search for deals on the gifts you plan to buy. Many stores offer sales and other discounts during the holiday season, so take a look online and at your local shops to see what is available. Keep an eye on flyers for deals, and search online for coupon codes to use with online or in-person shopping.
3. Suggest Low Cost or Free Activities
The heart of the holidays is really about spending time with family and friends. Instead of costly gifts or activities, suggest low cost or free ones. Look around your city or town and you will find tons of outdoor options such as skating rinks, winter walks, and more. If winter weather isn’t your thing, consider hosting a movie day at home rather than going to the theater, or have a potluck dinner where everyone brings food to share.
Do you have a large extended family? Rather than buying gifts for each person, suggest having everyone draw names for whom to buy a gift for this year. You could also propose a “white elephant” game, where everyone brings a small, inexpensive gift and then trades randomly or draws numbers to determine which gift they get.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to spend valuable time with family and loved ones during the holidays without a large price tag. By following these tips, you can avoid the spending trap and have a happy holiday season.
Allocca, Steve. “Five Ways To Avoid Overspending During The Holidays.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2019/12/10/five-ways-to-avoid-overspending-during-the-holidays/?sh=1d57ff12130f
CIBC. “Not overspending during the holidays.” https://www.cibc.com/en/personal-banking/smart-advice/debt-help/resources/holiday-overspending.html.
Gobel, Reyna. “8 Tips To Help You Control Holiday Spending.” Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/speding-holiday.asp.