Christmas is certainly one of the most wonderful times of the year. Holiday traditions fill our hearts with joy, reminiscing days gone by. Friends and families gather together to celebrate, relaxing and cherishing what matters most. There are cookies to bake, parties to attend, and presents to unwrap. Each second is filled with activity and has the potential to bring joy. However, if we’re not intentional with our finances, our January is quite the opposite of joyful.
Here are four ways to keep the season merry and bright without overspending.
- Be Sure to Budget. Even if you’ve already begun to purchase gifts, food, stocking, stuffers, and more, get a written budget in place. Track what you’ve already spent and anticipate every category you can think of for the remainder of the month. Don’t know where to begin? Use these FREE Printable Christmas Budget forms to get the wheels turning. You can use an online budgeting tool like MyChristmasBudget, too.
- Avoid Dollar Stocking Stuffers. I know this might seem counterintuitive, but you’ll end up wasting money by purchasing tons of stocking stuffers from the dollar store or section. Many times, we end up purchasing way too many seasonal items or poorly made toys that will be thrown away by January 3rd. Instead, think about purchasing fewer items that might cost a few dollars more but that have a practical purpose or greater longevity. Special toothbrushes, rarely purchased snack foods, or games that can be played throughout the year might be a better fit for your dollar.
- Give a $5 Gift Card. While it’s not a dazzling gift of gargantuan proportion, $5 is still a very good gift. Whether you choose to give a gift card from a restaurant, coffee shop, a big box store, or online retailer like Amazon, you can show that you care without going overboard. Neighbors, teachers, babysitters, and other special people in your life will appreciate the sentiment even if it’s not a huge denomination. Pair the gift card with a hand written, meaning-filled card or note and it might just be the very best gift that special someone receives all year long.
- Limit the Number of Gifts You Give. The popular adage “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.” is a great gift giving strategy for many families. We choose to give three gifts to our daughters every year – 1 toy, 1 book, & 1 article of clothing. Their stockings are filled with a mix of practical and fun smaller gifts with a specific budgeted amount. You may also need to choose to limit the gifts that you give beyond your family. While difficult conversations to begin, many times the others in your life would love a little slack when it comes to gift giving, too. If it’s already too late for this holiday season, you might consider having those conversations for next year. Instead of giving gifts, share a meal or do something fun together.
Using cash instead of credit cards will always help to keep your budget in check. Bring only the amount of money that you intend to spend and when it’s gone, be finished. We can all get swept up in the frenzy of great deals and the trap of buying “just one more thing.” The price of going into debt at Christmas isn’t worth the temporary happiness that it might bring. A debt free Christmas is the very best gift you can give yourself this year.