Stretch Your Budget During the Holidays
Edited by Eng, Lynn, Robbi, Christine dela Cruz
All of us have experienced the stress of holiday spending. There are always more people on your list than you anticipate. Even though there are a lot of gifts to give, meals to make and traveling to do, there are several ways you can stretch your budget to get the most out of your holiday spending.
It might be too late this year, but one of the easiest ways to have enough money for the holidays is to plan ahead. Many banks and credit unions have a Christmas Club, where each paycheck can have a specified amount transferred over. Determining how much you spend on Christmas and dividing it by paychecks makes it easy to stay out of debt.
- 1Think Outside the Box. A gift doesn't have to be a wrapped item; many people on your list might appreciate an act of kindness. When deciding what to purchase, think about things people need to have done. Instead of getting a useless item, perhaps you can make a card that announces the project you intend to tackle. Raking a yard, organizing a room, painting, washing their car - the list of ideas is as endless as the people on your list.Advertisement
- 2Set a Budget. If you have a set amount you are going to spend, especially on your children, stick to it. Let your family know well ahead of time that the budget is limited, and then commit to your decision. Your children will be receiving gifts from multiple places; it shouldn't all be a burden on you.Advertisement
- 3Share the Cooking. Preparing a holiday meal can quickly turn expensive. Instead of being in charge of everything, divide the responsibilities among your family. Having everyone bring a side dish and dessert can help lower your cooking cost. Request someone bring beverages, ice, or even the plates. Family shouldn't mind sharing the responsibility, and many hands make light work.
- 4Think of Others. One of the best ways you can find appreciation for the holidays is to start a new tradition of helping others. Volunteer at a shelter for Christmas dinner, or purchase gifts for children in poverty through one of the many organizations. Have your children fill a Christmas box for Operation Christmas Child for a child in a foreign country so they will be able to grasp a concept of how much little things can mean.
- 5Create New Family Traditions. Instead of gifts and running places, stop. Enjoy the time off work, have game night with your family, sit around a fire, and talk. The holidays are about being together; find ways to make it happen. It will help your wallet as well!