You might have experienced it before. The holiday season rolls around. You go overboard with your gift list. You take advantage of one too many sales. Everyone invites you to events or a holiday gift exchange.
You decide to take the kids out to the local winter festival. Come January, you’re in over your head and either extremely broke or faced with an overwhelming amount of credit card debt.
Dealing a post-holiday spending hangover is not fun and will make you feel like you’re starting the new year off on the wrong foot. Here are some ways to avoid it.
Stand Up for Your Holiday Budget
Setting a realistic holiday budget is your first step in defending yourself against overspending. Once you determine how much you can afford to spend, you need to stick to your budget at all costs and stand up for it.
If you know you can only spend $500 on Christmas this year, make sure your kids, friends, and family know if they try to pressure you to spend more. Get creative and find ways that you can honor your budget and still have an enjoyable holiday season.
If you treat your budget like a joke, it won’t help your bottom line.
Get Comfortable with Saying ‘No’ Sometimes
Every year my husband and I are invited to a friends house for a holiday gift exchange. Most of your friends in that group don’t have kids, but since we have to buy gifts for our son, we hardly ever feel like we can afford to participate even though we want to see our friends.
Last year passed, but this year we decided to tell our friend that we would stop by to hang out but wouldn’t participate in the gift exchange and she was totally fine with it.
My son has been wanting an expensive game console but I told him no this year partially because I think he’s too young and partially because it was over my budget this year.
Saying no can make you feel really good and set expectations with others if you’re trying to stick to your budget.
Try a No Spend Week or Weekend
I know it sounds like it will be difficult to pull off a no spend week/weekend in December, but it’s not as bad as it seems and doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up in the house the entire time.
My family and I just have a no spend weekend. On Friday we went to look at a Christmas lights show in our area that was free and I baked cookies for the drive-through show. On Saturday we watched movies and visited a friend we haven’t seen in a while. On Sunday it snowed so I took my son outside to play in the snow and visited my mom and siblings who live nearby.
It was a low-key weekend with lots of visits but it was relaxing and fun. Plus, it’s helped us avoid spending during this time of year when it’s so tempting to overspend.
Try to find free festivals in your area or see what activities you can do at home with your family. Have you put up your Christmas tree yet or holiday decorations yet? Have you watched a holiday movie with friends and family? If there’s snow in your area, can you go sledding or take the kids out to play?
Enjoying the holiday season shouldn’t always be about spending money so make sure you embrace lots of free activities as well.
Earn Some Extra Money
If you don’t want to be super broke when it’s time to ring in the New Year, make the effort to earn some extra money for the holidays. There’s still time to do things like sell items from your home, work a part-time seasonal job, drive for Uber or Lyft (you get paid weekly), take on some brand ambassador gigs, babysit for friends and family, walk dogs, etc.
Some of these extra income ideas will allow you to earn money by Christmas while others will put money in your pocket post-Christmas which is just as important.
Don’t Forget to Budget for Your Holiday Dinner or Potluck It
When coming up with a holiday spending plan, many people tend to forget to budget extra money for food and for their holiday dinner. The cost of food can add up, especially during this time of year when most people tend to have a big feast at their home.
Restaurants and grocery stores are often closed on big holidays so it’s best to decide how much you plan to spend on food and how you can keep the costs lost.
For Christmas, I love making this big and delicious dish called gumbo that my great-grandmother used to make. The only problem is that it’s expensive to prepare even though it provides us with several days of leftovers. My husband and I each set aside $50 and we start saving in November.
Another thing you could do is have a potluck dinner with friends and family. Allow everyone to pitch in by bringing a dish to pass and you’ll have a ton of food while spending less money.
Avoid restaurants and ready-made meal services as they will only hike up your food costs. If you don’t like to cook, you can always go to a friend or family member’s home for a meal and pitch in by bringing things like drinks, paperware, bread, dessert, etc.
Lots of financial stress can come with the holiday season. You can avoid that stress by setting realistic expectations for yourself, saying no, and embracing free and frugal activities to engage in this time of year.
Feel free to take advantage of holiday sales, but don’t go overboard. Your wallet will thank you next year and you’ll feel much more financially stable in January.
What steps are you taking to avoid a post-holiday spending hangover?
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