Two types of hangover are very common around the holiday season–and only one of them involves nog. For reasons of either overabundant festive spirit or a sense of obligation, many consumers spend way beyond their means, leading to headache in the new year. Keeping track of your spending as you come down to the final weeks and preparing for any parties or travel you may undertake will help you prevent you from going beyond your limits.
Preparation. Be sure to have a gameplan. Going into the holidays with direction is a must if you’re looking to keep your spending within reason. Doing a little research ahead of time will put you on the right path.
Budgeting. Develop a solid budget for gifting, travel, and any parties you may host and stick with it. Know how much you can spend on each category ahead of time, and you’re less likely to be bombarded by unexpected expenses.
Emphasize the sentiment, not the price tag. Giving gifts is an exercise in showing your love to another. With this in mind, giving gifts that express your adoration rather than focusing on finding an impressive price point will matter more to the recipient and save you money.
Read flyers to find grocery deals. If you are hosting a dinner party or family meal, pull those grocery store flyers out of the recycling bin and take a look to see what kind of deals are available. Not only will you likely find a better deal on something you need, but you may end up being inspired to make a dish you hadn’t considered before.
Serve a signature cocktail. Rather than buying a wide variety of liquor at your holiday party, assemble one festive signature drink in bulk. Champagne cocktails are an inexpensive way to liven the spirits of your guests on a budget.
Cut costs on cards. Sending eCards rather than paper cards is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to reach out to people. Purchasing cards can get costly quickly, and online cards offer the opportunity to express sentiments in a budget friendly way.
Pay cash! Keeping track of your spending is much easier to do with a tangible amount of money in your wallet. Using your credit or debit card can make tracking what you spend difficult, as it can take time for transactions to show up on your balance. Also, hold onto receipts so you can add up what you spend at the end of the day.
Consider credit cards as short term loans. Holding a balance on your credit card builds up interest and can cost you a lot more than expected in the long run. Use your credit cards with the intent of paying them off quickly.
DIY your decor. Rather than shelling out a bunch of cash for your holiday decor, be creative. Turning your decor into an art project is a fun way to bring the family together while you save.
Go light on the lights. Don’t go Clark Griswold on the lights. Electricity is expensive, as are the lights themselves. Use holiday lighting as an accent, sticking to smaller arrangements on trees and bushes. Electric candles on your windowsills are also an understated and sophisticated look.
Book flights for Christmas day. Holiday airfare is incredibly expensive, but booking your flights strategically can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. Flights coming in on Christmas day are often considerably cheaper than similar flights the day before or after. Also, airports are considerably less crowded on Christmas (or at least this has been my experience).
Bake your gifts. While you’re whipping up some cookies or cakes for your holiday party, make bigger batches and give some treats as gifts. Everyone likes snacks!
Give your skills. If you have a useful talent or craft, give that as a gift. Giving yourself is giving a little piece of your heart, which is more valuable than anything you can buy.
Cut fuel costs. If you’re hitting the road, gas up before you go. That way you can ensure you get the best rate. Do some quick research to find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.
Be creative. Going out of town? Airbnb your house for extra travel money. Get paid to have a house sitter.
Find a place to stay. Research lodging ahead of time when you travel. If the opportunity is there, stay with family and save a lot on hotels.
The holidays can be expensive if you’re not careful. With a little mindfulness and preparation, you can help keep your bottom line happy and healthy. When the new year comes around, you’ll be happy you did.