The holiday season is upon us. It is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, but unfortunately, many people find themselves overwhelmed with stress at this time of year. Christmas has become a very commercial holiday and the “spend” message is heard from retailers more at this time of year than any other. The question is what can you do to make this season easier financially? There are many things but I will give you a few to think about.
A list is your best friend. A list of who you are shopping for and your budget is key. Don’t forget to record everything you have picked up. It is easy for people who shop early to over buy because they forget about things they have already purchased. And speaking of shopping early – do it. You have more opportunity to put thought into what you are purchasing and looking for deals.
That brings up the next point –who says all this shopping is necessary? There are so many other options that get overlooked. Homemade gifts take extra time but cost less and mean a lot more to the recipients. Food gifts (ie baking, preserves), crafts and photos are all inexpensive options. Even less expensive is the gift of time. Giving someone a certificate for your time can be invaluable (ie babysitting, help with yard work, dog sitting).
Be very careful if you do find yourself using credit to fund your Christmas shopping. If the money was not there before Christmas, it likely is not going to be there after. The true cost of using that credit card will far exceed the monetary value of the gift. It is tempting and there is a lot of pressure to overspend this time of year. Before you do, stop and think what this time of year is really about. Take time with your family and friends – that is what matters in the end not the pretty boxes under the tree.