Getting Through the Holidays Financially
From carols and cocoa to stockings and Santa, the Christmas season is a celebration of joy and love. Financially, however, cramming a year’s worth of merriment into just a few weeks can be a strain. But, believe it or not, there are ways to plan ahead and spend a little smarter during the holiday season.
Make a budget, and stick to it. Even if you already have a holiday budget, you may want to “check it twice” to be certain it includes everything. Gifts are a given, but other expenses such as travel and holiday feasts can also add up.
Draw names with your extended family. If you find yourself shopping for countless uncles, aunts, cousins, and nephews, consider getting the family to take a Secret Santa approach. Elfster.com is a free online gift exchange service that makes it easy for your family to draw names, set spending limits, make and view wish lists, and even shop online. Not only does this reduce the number of gifts to purchase, it alleviates the stress of finding something great for the sister-in-law who has everything.
Send Christmas cards by email. Postage and physical cards are expensive, so why not send a fun and festive eCard to show loved ones you care? Sites like Blue Mountain and Evite have traditional styles, but for something a little more fun, try JibJab. It’s a free web-based program that lets you personalize holiday-themed videos using photos of your family and friends. They’ll be sure to get a kick out of the music, jokes, and animations!
Invest in an experience. The one-day-only and act now specials offered by big box stores may be tempting, but if your house already has too much stuff, consider gifting an experience to your loved one. Tickets to an event or a restaurant gift card is not only a lovely present, but they’re the gift that keeps giving, building anticipation and spreading out the Christmas cheer for weeks or months.
Spend a little on giving back. It may seem like it would cost more to donate to the Angel Tree or give a gift to a child in need, but it may be just what your family needs to get in the Christmas spirit – and temper expectations. Seeing the humble wish list of a child with little means may help your kids better appreciate a more modest spread of gifts this holiday season.
When it comes to Christmas savings, just making a few of these small changes can make a big difference come January. Spend smartly this year, and the holiday spirit will make your heart rejoice – not regret.