The holidays should be filled with peace and happiness, and surrounded by the ones you love the most — not stress. However, many folks become anxious during the holidays because they overextend themselves financially.
According to a poll by Healthline, holiday stress statistics show that 47 percent of respondents agonize over their finances and 15 percent worry about “picking the right gifts.” Do not allow yourself to become a statistic. Approach this holiday season by being prepared and plan ahead.
Here are some helpful tips and suggestions to negate stress and anxiety from overindulging this holiday season.
- Determine a realistic holiday spending budget and stick to it. Work with what you have available without going into debt to impress friends and family. You will want to factor in the cost of holiday gifts, cards, gift wrapping, shipping, stocking stuffers, etc.
- Create a list of people you plan to purchase gifts for and set a limit for the amount you intent to spend on each person. Try to stick with immediate family and close friends. Neighbors and co-workers do not usually expect gifts. However, it is wise to purchase a few extra inexpensive gifts in the event you forget someone or get invited to a last-minute party. Fight the urge to treat yourself during holiday shopping. Stick to your list to stay within budget!
- Do your research. Compare prices online, look for sales, clip coupons or gather coupon codes. Take advantage of price matching, discounts (kama’aina, military, student, senior citizen, etc.) and free shipping.
- Pay for gifts with cash or a debit card when possible. Avoid using retail credit cards (ex: Macy’s, Target, etc.) with interest rates upwards of 20 percent. If you do use a credit card, look for one with a low interest rate and rewards or cash back. Be sure to pay your debt in full once you receive your monthly bill.
You could save money by being less materialistic and opting for more thoughtful gifts:
- Spread holiday cheer by volunteering for a good cause. Rather than spending money on gifts and parties, make memories with family and friends while giving back to the community. Check out volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Acts of kindness are often the most rewarding gifts we can give. Cook a meal to drop off at a homeless shelter or go visit the elderly at a nursing home. Offer to assist a grandparent with errands or take them to a movie.
- Donate to a family member or friend’s favorite charity.
- Get creative and give personalized gifts. Painting someone a picture or framing a family portrait may take more time and effort, but will be memorable for sure. Pinterest provides plenty of great ideas for homemade holiday gifts. Keep in mind the cost of materials needed to make these gifts, and determine if it is cost effective.
Plan ahead for next holiday season by establishing a holiday spending account that you regularly contribute to throughout the year such as a holiday spending account. You can automatically deposit money into this account all year while earning interest.
But remember what the holidays are really about and keep these tips in mind to avoid overspending. Your holidays will be much more enjoyable if you are not stressed from being broke or swimming in debt!