The number one step in controlling holiday expenses is to decide exactly how much you are able to spend.
Spending during the holiday season is usually for gifts, entertainment, travel and decorating. With regards to gifts, ensure that you make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for. Include teachers, your favorite bar-tender, co-workers, the vendor at the market and anyone else you usually end up giving a gift; then step back and consider that list.
Are there people on this list who you can give a card rather than a gift? Are there people you could chip in on a gift for rather than paying for it by yourself? Important: set a price limit for each gift. For example, you might decide that you’ll set a $30 limit on immediate family members, $20 on children in your family and $10 on acquaintances like co-workers or teachers.
Please do not forget to factor in the cost of holiday entertaining. Even if you aren’t having a party, providing snacks and drinks for neighbors or friends who drop by and serving the holiday meal can be expensive. If you’ll be traveling during the holidays, even if it’s by car, be sure to include these costs in your budget. Finally, estimate how much you’ll spend on holiday decorations. This is often an easy area to scale back.
Many people blow their holiday budgets because they get carried away by the excitement of the season. It’s important to remember that you can still have a joyous holiday season without killing your budget. Instead of focusing on the commercial aspect, focus on the true spirit of the season. Don’t let yourself be pressured into getting expensive gifts. The best ones are those that are personal and meaningful to the recipient, and they don’t have to cost a lot.
Here’s a tip that’s guaranteed to help you save this season:
Keep it simple. Focus on enjoying the simple pleasures of the holiday season, like spending time with friends and family or taking a walk to visit neighbors and to see the holiday decorations in your neighborhood. Have family members chip in a make Christmas lunch together. These kinds of activities often capture the spirit of the season better than expensive gifts or elaborate celebrations.