It’s that time of year when Thanksgiving comes and goes and before we know it Christmas will be upon us. For many people, this time of year means the giving and exchanging of gifts to family, friends and loved ones. It also means that many people will be worried about their spending over the Holiday season; with concerns of how to budget, going over budget, or amassing unwanted amounts of credit card debit.
Here are some ideas to help keep your Holiday spending in check in order to stick to your budget and avoid the trap of credit card debt – the gift that keeps on giving.
- Create a spending plan and stick to it. Many individuals have a budget when it comes to what they will spend on gifts for the Holidays. However, it becomes tempting to spend in excess of this budget when we see additional gifts we’d like to give or we feel guilty that what we’ve purchased isn’t enough for the person the gift is intended for. Sticking to your budget reduces the temptation to spend money you don’t have.
- Consider shopping earlier in the year. Rather than wait until the last minute, consider doing your shopping throughout the year. Items can be purchased throughout the year when they’re on sale, and perhaps when emotions are less likely to influence last-minute spending.
- Consider saving for your Holiday gifts throughout the year. Many banks and credit unions offer a Christmas account where folks can save their money specifically for the Holidays. Then, when it’s time to purchase gifts, the money is already there, budgeted for and ready to be used for its intended purpose. Avoid department store credit card offers to finance your spending.
- Communicate expectations. If things are tight or your budget is small, consider explaining this to your family. In most cases, family and friends will be completely understanding of the situation and will often suggest not giving them anything at all. Conversely, they may feel relieved when you tell them the same thing – a gift isn’t necessary.
- Consider listening. If a friend or family member mentions that they would rather not get a gift, consider taking that comment seriously. Granted, this is difficult to do as the act of giving gifts is an expression of love and appreciation. However, consider respecting their request. Perhaps in lieu of a gift, you write a nice card or note of appreciation to them. Another idea is to make a donation in their name to a charity or organization they’re involved in or have interest.
- Consider combination gifting. Many times family members will pool their gift money to give a bigger gift to their loved ones. This allows family members to participate in giving, without feeling bad that they can’t give as much. Additionally, the folks pooling their money should agree on the amount each person will contribute. Those with higher incomes or who’ve done better planning should not be expected to contribute the most. It should remain equal. It also means that those with more money to give should stick to the agreed upon amount to avoid contention and ill-feelings from those who can’t give more.
- Giving is not quid pro quo. If you receive a gift, be thankful. If you didn’t plan on getting the person who gave a gift, consider not doing so, but perhaps send a quick note of thanks in a card or letter. This not only saves money, but also the stress of getting a gift you had no intention of giving.