How To Avoid Going Broke This Holiday Season

Can you believe it is already Fall which means that the Holiday season is just around the corner?  I don’t know about you but I’ve plans for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and hopefully a trip to somewhere sunny in January.  To do all of these things is going to take some money and since I only have a short amount of time to put aside the cash here is what I am planning on doing:

Setting a budget for each event:

Last year for Halloween a group of us went to a party at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR.  I purchased a VIP ticket for who knows why and how much.  Add together the cost of my costume, parking, drinks, dinner, and the ticket I was out an easy $200.  But wait, that wasn’t all… I ended up losing my keys at the party and had to walk to the Max transit station, take it out to Beaverton, walk the mile home, get my spare key, ride my bike back to the Max, take it back downtown, ride my bike to my car, unlock my car and try to fit the bike in the rear seat, and then drive home.  What a night!

This year I am only spending $50 on Halloween for everything which won’t include the $10 I spent last year buying candy on November 1st that was 50% off!

I’m also budgeting $100 for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years which may not be a lot but hey, we’re in a recession.

The trip to somewhere sunny is going to be a bit more expensive but I’m booking the flight and hotels early.  I’m planning on spending a long weekend in San Diego and if I book now it looks like I’m getting some really good deals.

Getting a 2nd job:

I’m lucky in that I love to officiate basketball and with the season starting here in just a bit I can earn spending money to pay for the Holidays.  It does take time away from my family and friends both during the week and on the weekends but I figure the trade-off is well worth it.  There are enough seasonal jobs around such as raking leaves, cleaning out gutters, and picking fruit or who knows what else that can help pay for the Holidays.

Pooling together with Family and Friends:

Most of us most likely know someone who has been impacted by the recession and can’t afford to participate like they have in the past.  This year why not look to go in together for holiday meals – you bring the pizza and I’ll bring the pop – type approach.  As for Christmas gifts I’m going to buy puzzles that we can spend time putting together either during the Holidays or at another time down the road.  Puzzles work your brain, can be a cooperative venture, and while away the time.

Next Year:

For next year I am going to be a bit smarter in my planning.  I am going to set aside in a special fund $25 from each paycheck just for the Holidays.  This will be an account that I have to go and stand in line at the credit union to take out.  In a year this will give me $650 to use in this manner.  My local credit union has a Christmas Club account for this very purpose and they’ll give me a $10 check at the end of the year just to do it.

I figure if I stick to my plan I can avoid the post Holiday spending hangover that hits in Mid-January when the credit card bills show up.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

About the author

Andrew D. Jamison, CFP®

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