It can be so easy to overspend your hard-earned money over the holiday season. Of course you want to buy gifts for your friends and family, go out and catch up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile, and there are just so many sales that you can’t help but buy for yourself! Here are a few easy tips to keep in mind as we jump into the busiest time of the year:
- Make a budget. Before doing any shopping, decide how much money you can spend on gifts and who you need to buy gifts for. Just sit down and write down each person you need a gift for, then how much you would like to spend on each person without going over your total spending budget. The key is to stick to this list once you’re out shopping.
- Pay for all of your gifts in cash. This tip is similar to the envelope method of budgeting, for which you put a lump sum of cash in an envelope that is to be used just for gifts. Then once you spend that money, it’s gone – no more gift buying. This technique will help you from thinking your bank account is limitless or maxing out your credit cards.
- Try a gift exchange. Maybe you have several co-workers, roommates, or a large family, and trying to think of a gift for each individual person is difficult in itself, and it can become expensive for all of them. With a gift exchange, each person buys one gift for one other person in the group. This way, you only have to find one gift and won’t have to spend as much total. Gift exchanges can also be made into games, so it’s fun, too!
- Take advantage of coupons and sales. If you find a lot of really great deals on some of those gifts, you may have more of that total spending budget to reallocate or buy a few more smaller gifts in the end. Be sure to stick to your list at first, and don’t buy too many items for yourself just because they are on sale.
- Get crafty. So you have a tight budget, and buying a gift for all of the important people in your life is going to be financially impossible. Homemade gifts are the next big thing! In fact, people often enjoy homemade gifts more than store-bought gifts because they know that you put time and effort into making them. Make a scarf or jewelry, bake treats, or repurpose items around your house. The raw material needed and a little bit of your time can make a huge difference in how much you spend overall. Check out pinterest.com to get tons of do-it-yourself gift ideas.
- Lend a helping hand. If you aren’t feeling creative, give your time. Offer to babysit for your co-worker for an hour or two free of charge, spend some extra time playing a game with your younger sibling, clean the house for your parents, or rake leaves for your neighbor. People are so appreciative for having a little extra help during such a busy time of the year.
- Stay in. It can be very tempting to want to spend more money on entertainment through the holiday season since you’ll be meeting up with old friends or spending time with your family. Instead of going to the movies or eating out, try cooking at home and playing board games or renting a movie. You can also make a family affair out of decorating the house or wrapping presents together.
To find some of these tips and more, visit: http://www.betterbudgeting.com/articles/holidays/saveatchristmas.htm and http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/ways-to-save-during-holidays-1.aspx
Kelsey Darnell Peer Financial Counselor I Powercat Financial Counseling www.k-state.edu/pfc