Doing Christmas on A Budget

Anelle Valdes
Anelle Valdes
hand writing home budget with calculator

For many of us, the holidays come with a hefty price tag. Let’s face it: within the span of a couple of months, we have Thanksgiving with the huge dinner spread, Christmas with piles of presents beneath a tree, and New Year’s with a night of partying with friends and family. From the decorations to the grocery budget, the gifts and travel expenses, the end of the year and the start of the next can leave a family strapped for cash. It may seem hard, but sticking to a budget is so important for your family’s stress levels. If you are still finalizing your holiday plans and finances, let us here at Wise Loan provide some tips for making this holiday season your best one yet!

Cut a couple of corners

If you don’t have a Christmas fund or holiday savings account already set aside, and you are beginning to worry about affording Christmas presents for your family or friends this month, it might be possible for you to adjust another segment or two in your budget to free up a little wiggle room. Instead of eating out over the next couple of weeks, you could pack a lunch and save some cash that way. You could also borrow from your emergency fund; but if you choose to go down that route, don’t forget to replace the money as soon as possible.

You should also examine exactly how much you planned to spend for this holiday. Take a look at the menu for your big shindigs; examine your list of gifts to buy, and who the gifts are for. If the amount that you planned to spend seems to be a little higher than you thought, it might be time to reevaluate and see where you might be able to pare down your spending on the holiday side of things.

Avoid incurring heavy debt to pay for the holidays

If at all possible, try to avoid using credit cards or payday loans for your holiday shopping needs. Work with only the available cash you have on hand, rather than dipping into “virtual” money. This will keep your expenses more even-keeled, and set you up for a great start in the new year.

Plan and strategize

If you have kids to buy presents for this month, you’re not alone, and you may not be as bad off on the price point as you thought you would be. According to DealNews, toys should be cheapest toward the middle of the month. For the adults on your gift list, tools, kitchen utensils, and appliances should still be plentiful on the shelves through the end of the year. Wait to purchase your groceries for the big holiday parties until the week of, if at all possible, because the discounts will be the greatest then.

Minimize Events and parties

It does you no good to say yes to every party invite, and no one should feel obligated to host more than one-holiday hoedown. It’s just not financially feasible for most of us, and many of your would-be hosts and guests understand that. They may be in the same boat. Don’t be afraid to say no to one or two-party invites, with promises to try to come to the next one.

If you are obligated to host an event, try to trim down your expenses by asking guests to bring food, beverages, decorations, utensils, and other items. Make sure to have a backup plan, just in case someone forgets or has to cancel, but this can help you keep within budget and minimize your family’s stress.

For the kids on your list

Make sure to help the kids manage their expectations from the get-go. If your children know that expenses are going to be a little tight, and they did not get as many gifts or as expensive a gift as they wanted, they are more likely to enjoy the items they do get more than they will be disappointed. Kids are generally forgiving creatures; it may also help to reinforce that this entire season is supposed to be about love and giving, rather than want and receiving. Take a weekend and make some small gift bags for families at the local hospital or shelters or volunteer one afternoon at a local toy drive or meal event.

One of the most popular tricks in the parental arsenal is a handy list-building rule. Something like, “One gift you really want, one thing you need, something to wear, and something to read,” can be very helpful in managing expectations. Then, if that Christmas bonus does come through at the last minute, you can run to the store and get that gaming console or new phone as a surprise gift they were not expecting.

Try not to stress

It is important to remember that one Christmas is not going to make or break your child’s life, or your family and friends, for that matter. It truly is the thought that counts, and if you can’t afford an extravagant Christmas season, for most of us, that’s okay. We get it. We’re right there with you. Have a happy Holiday, and take a breath.

The recommendations contained in this article are designed for informational purposes only.  Essential Lending DBA Wise Loan does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided in this article; is not responsible for any errors, omissions, or misrepresentations; and is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken as a result of the information provided above.

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