The holiday season is fast approaching and the pressure of financial worries often hampers holiday cheer. Shopping for that perfect gift, cooking big meals, and making travel plans add stress to an already hectic time. If this sounds familiar to you, then it’s time to learn a few ways to alleviate the burden on your wallet and spend more time relaxing during this special time. Try these simple tips to keep your spending under control:
· Set a budget and stick to it: Setting a budget for your gift list and entertainment expenses is the first step in handling your holiday costs. Make a list of each recipient‘s name along with the amount of money you are willing to spend. Make another list for decorations, food, travel, and other necessities for the holidays. Once you have this is in writing you will find it much easier to keep your holiday spending under control.
· Homemade Gifts: Handmade gifts or personalized coupons can be a special treat in this age of store-bought presents. Use your creativity and talents to make that special gift that will be appreciated. You can put together a gift basket, create a photo album, knit a scarf, or bake some cookies. Another great gift idea is to create your own coupons for home-cooked meals, house cleaning, yard work, babysitting, or dog walking. Your personalized effort will be worth more to your loved ones than any dollar amount you could spend.
· Shop early: It’s never too early to start, so make your list and start watching for sales and picking up nonspecific gifts at bargain prices. When you spread out your spending you may avoid using credit cards to make purchases. Now is the time to buy non-perishable food that you may need for your holiday cooking and baking.
· Entertainment and Activities: There are many ways to get into the holiday spirit without over spending. Try some of these ideas to keep your family entertained with little or no costs involved; attend the local tree lighting ceremony or Christmas parade; watch a holiday classic such as, “It’s a Wonderful Life;” have the kids or grandkids put on a holiday play and invite the neighbors for a potluck dinner; celebrate with game night and pull out your best board games.
· After Christmas Sales: If you are not going to see friends or family on the day itself you can take advantage of post-holiday sales on everything from clothes, electronics and more. This is also a great opportunity to purchase items for next year’s festivities such as wrapping paper, ribbon, decorations, Christmas cards, etc.
There are so many ways to save money this holiday, get creative and think outside the box. Hopefully these tips will help ease some of the stress of the season and make your holidays more relaxing. Spend time with one another, sit around the dinner table sharing stories of holidays past, and enjoy every minute of this wonderful time of year.
By: Sherry Gibbon
Vice President and
Community Relations and OMNI Manager