Did you survive Open Early Thanksgiving? How about Black Friday? How much did you send to Amazon on Cyber Monday? The family hasn’t even finished their turkey or watched the football marathon and yet Santa has his claws out…saying “buy….buy….buy!” You might have survived the mobs – but how is your checking account, credit card, or spending plan doing? Has Santa clawed his way through those yet?
The Thanksgiving break was a nice relief before term papers and finals week, but you might have already cratered your finances if you weren’t careful. According to ABC News, most Americans have already spent about $450 this season, and will fork over $700 to Santa before we watch the Little Apple drop in Aggieville on New Years Eve.
If you don’t have a spending plan for the holiday season, you might ring in the New Year with a new friend: the debt humbug. To avoid the humbug, here are a few simple things you can do. First, have a written spending plan. Some people call them budgets, but a plan seems like a more friendly way to put it. The best thing is to earmark a little money each month for the holiday season. That’s the best way to handle an irregular expense, spread it out over the entire year. And don’t just plan for gifts – those trips home for the holidays can get expensive depending on how far you have to go.
Another thing you can do is give gifts that don’t cost a lot of cash. A gift of your time will be really appreciated, and will be remembered long after that trinket has been put in the closet or the basement (or the re-gifting pile!). Offer to clean out a closet, rake the yard, housesit the dog while your friends are away, or help someone take down the holiday decorations. Or make a homemade gift. Homemade gifts and gifts of service are unique, and are only limited by your imagination.
The last thing you can do is talk with your family about focusing more on fun time with family and less time on spending. In my family we got to the point where we didn’t know what to get someone, so we spent time running around getting gift cards. Then we’d get together and exchange gift cards with each other. How lame is that? We decided to just give one gift to each child, and the adults (college age or older) got a nice Christmas card and a homemade gift or gift of time.
If you need help with your holiday spending plan, or want some help dealing with the debt you already have, check out the Powercat Financial Counseling website at www.k-state.edu/pfc/ for some ideas with spending plans. You can also sign up for a free counseling session on the website, or give us a call at 785-532-2889. Trained peer counselors are ready to help deal with Santa’s claws and avoid the debt humbug.
Rob Jones Peer Counselor I Powercat Financial Counseling www.k-state.edu/pfc