Surviving the Holidays With Your Sanity Intact
The holiday season is a special time. With Charlie Brown on TV and carols on the radio, and an ever-growing list of people to shop for, it’s easy to get carried away. The pressure to over-shop and overspend when you’re rushing to buy everything on your list can be overwhelming. No worries, though; we’ve got you covered! Read on for fantastic pre-and post-holidaytips to ensure you’ll have a holly, jolly December without breaking the bank.
6 Pre-Holidays Tips
1. Revise your gift list
Gift giving is a treasured tradition, but chances are, lots of the people you exchange gifts with would be as relieved as you’d be to be taken off your list. Narrow down your gift list. Talk to coworkers and acquaintances about just exchanging cards this year, or make a deal to only exchange homemade or inexpensive gifts.
This way, you can focus on buying special gifts for those closest to you instead of generic gifts for everyone you’ve ever met and their cousins, too.
2. Organize a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa
Still got a list that’s a mile long? Try one of these creative solutions! A Yankee Swap or a Secret Santa activity not only saves money and stress, it adds a bit of intrigue and playfulness to the holiday. These swaps are great for family gatherings, office parties and neighborhood get-togethers. Everyone involved only needs to bring a single gift – and it’s always fun.
Set a reasonable price cap on gifts so no one ends up leaving with a candy cane while the person next to them hauls off a flat-screen TV. You can check out online tips for organizing a fun and affordable Yankee Swap or Secret Santa.
3. Bake holiday treats
Another great way to reduce the financial weight of your gift list is to break out the baking supplies and start whipping up your own holiday treats instead of buying gifts.
It’s hard to know exactly what your friend will like as a gift, but no one turns down a tin of homemade holiday cookies! Use your favorite traditional recipes, or try something new and different.
4. Make a budget and stick to it
This tip sounds a bit obvious. After all, we all plan to stick to a budget, right? But make this the year it really happens!
Don’t set yourself a ballpark budget. Set an absolute limit to how much you will spend on the holidays this season. This will encourage you to plan your spending rather than grabbing impulse items as you move through a store. It will also encourage you to look for great deals, which brings us to our next tip.
5. Make use of holiday deals….but don’t get distracted
It’s easy to become hypnotized by deals. Prices drop and we go wild, spending more than we originally intended because we don’t want to miss out on those “crazy, low holiday prices.”
Take a deep breath. Make use of these deals wisely by buying items on your list at a discounted price. But don’t be tantalized by the deals to the point that you buy things you don’t really need….or even want.
6. Rethink giving
We know that the holidays are all about giving – but giving doesn’t need to mean spending money. Instead of running to the mall again, think of other ways you can give that will help improve your community, make the world a better place, and truly brighten someone’s holiday.
It’s the perfect time of year to volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charity organizations. This kind of giving doesn’t cost a dime, but can be a memorable and significant experience for all involved.
To find local volunteer opportunities, click here.
2 Post-Holiday Tips
1. Use those gift cards
Gift cards are a typical holiday gift, but many people forget they have them, and they go unused.
Put all of your gift cards in your wallet and spend them creatively. Maybe you don’t care for coffee on the go, but you can buy a package of ground coffee beans at Starbucks and use it at home. Use that iTunes gift card to rent a movie instead of taking the family out. Whatever it might be, use these gift cards and appreciate them for what they are – money in your wallet.
2. Invest in next year’s regifting effort
In addition to gift cards, you’ll probably find yourself with a bunch of gifts you don’t really want. Some of these can be saved and re-gifted next year or used as birthday gifts throughout the year – scented candles, bottles of wine, bath products, etc. Even if you don’t actually want it, you can find someone else who does!
Your Turn: How do you get through the holiday season? Share your best financial survival tips with us in the comments!