The holiday season is right around the corner, and with it will come long shopping lines, and for many, large credit card bills. However, bringing out the credit cards simply to afford the holiday season is a big and costly mistake. Paying high interest rates on a maxed out card until next spring simply to get your 8-year-old a great prepaid cell phone stocking stuffer is ridiculous. Instead, consider the following tips to make your holiday season enjoyable without needed to constantly whip out the plastic:
1. Learn discipline
You won’t make it through the holiday season debt free unless you learn to keep yourself under control. While it is fun to shop and cook for loved ones, it is also costly. Don’t let yourself get carried away with buying the best gifts for every one you’ve ever come into contact with – this goes for your kids too. Make a reasonable shopping list, and stick to it. If you don’t shop with discipline, you will overspend and make last minute, unnecessary purchases that will only cause you to go overbudget and most likely rack up those credit cards.
2. Create an accurate budget
When most people begin planning for their holiday shopping, they only think of gifts and then give themselves one solid amount for those gifts. This is a sure fire way to set yourself up for overspending as budgeting just for gifts leaves out other holiday needs such as travel and food – both of which are integral parts of the holidays. When creating your budget for the holidays, be as accurate as possible. Include all major food purchases, gifts, and any travel expenses that will be needed to keep yourself from swiping those credit cards when funds are low.
3. Start preparing now
The sooner you start shopping, the better. Most people don’t have all the funds needed to complete holiday shopping in one month alone. By spreading out your shopping, you will give yourself more time to find the right deals and you will be less likely to charge any purchases as you won’t be spreading yourself so thin financially.
4. Shop smart and make your own
Always remember to shop smart. Your kids don’t always need the biggest and best; an inexpensive alternative can provide just as much entertainment and enjoyment. Shopping online can also greatly reduce shopping expenses. Certain items, such as electronics, books, and movies, can be purchased for significantly lower prices if bought online. For foods items, consider local farm markets or discount grocers to buy the fix-ins for your holiday meals. Alternatives to department and big box stores can provide huge savings without sacrificing quality so don’t be afraid to shop in them when trying to stay within your allotted budget. Making your own gifts is another great way to save money. This guide teaches you how to make all your own homemade cleaners naturally.
5. Delegate and share expenses
If you realize that your extravagant Thanksgiving meal is what is always sending you over budget, then ask others to help out. Simply request that everyone bring their favorite side dish to reduce costs. When holding holiday celebrations, there is no harm is asking others to help. It will actually make the event more enjoyable for everyone as it will be more personal, and it will be more enjoyable for you as it won’t be as stressful and won’t require as many funds.
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and giving, not one of financial instability and anxiety. Avoid putting yourself in the red by steering clear of the credit cards trap this holiday season. You don’t need to spend a lot to have the best holiday season. In fact, doing so will only make the season more stressful.