It’s that time of year again where merchants and media inundate consumers with the idea that we must shop ’til we drop and find those perfect gifts for everyone in our family. But hold on there! Unbeknownst to the ad agencies pumping out creative spots that grab our attention, we have free will over how much we spend this holiday season.
Obviously, planning early in the year is a great approach to thwart over-spending during the holiday season. Plenty of financially responsible people start shopping and budgeting months ahead of time to alleviate the January “I’ve drained my bank account” blues.
However, if you’re not one of those people who got an early start but still need to keep the spending in check, here are a few ideas to alleviate breaking the bank:
- Reduce the amount of gifts you purchase. Instead of buying gifts for everyone in your family (especially if your family is large), propose the Secret-Santa idea to the family instead. Choose one person to focus on so everyone gets thoughtful gifts instead of a smattering of crap. Don’t feel obliged to purchase for co-workers and friends. Instead, let friends know you won’t be exchanging gifts this year and offer to host a pot-luck holiday feast.
- Opt for homemade gifts. It’s still plenty early enough in the season to make your own gifts. If you’re a talented artist, cook, or wood worker, perhaps you can whip together baskets of goodies, a personalized painting, or small wood engraved plaque for friends and family. However, if your talents are less than stellar in any one area, there are plenty of ideas out there ranging from mason jar gifts to goody baskets to framed photos.
- Go for charity. If you’re running short on money and time, another option is to sponsor a charity. Tell friends and family that this year instead of gift-swapping, you’d prefer they donate to a specific charity. It’s a kind and giving gesture.
- Just say no. A more drastic and stark approach, tell friends and family that you’re not participating in gift-giving this year. Instead, offer alternatives such as hosting a dinner, spending a day at the theater, or pool your funds for a weekend in the snow.
This year we’re doing a combination of three of these (1-3) to reduce our overall spending so we don’t feel over-stretched come January. It’s a strategy that worked so well last year that it deserves a repeat.
What is your holiday spending strategy?
Thanks to those that hosted me in a carnival this week:
- The Money Principle
- Your Personal Finance Pro
- Reach Financial Independence
- Digital Personal Finance
- Tie the Money Knot
- Financial Nerd