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.
- 1A 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.Think Outside the Box.
- 2If 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.Set a Budget.
- 3Preparing 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.Share the Cooking.
- 4One 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.Think of Others.
- 5Instead 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!Create New Family Traditions.
How to Make Holidays Memorable Even on Short Budget
- 1It may be a cliché, but keep in mind that holidays are not about being able to buy and receive expensive gifts. In fact, gift giving is not done for the sake of showing off that you can buy something pricey. Remember that what's more important is the thought that goes with gifts. You may just be giving a very simple gift, but you really thought about it and were creative enough in coming up with the idea. For example, you may think of giving a very simple pair of kitchen gloves because you remember that your friend is always complaining that her nails crack when she spends a long time washing dishes. The gift itself is simple, but the concern and care that goes with the idea is priceless. If you focus on these types of things, you will enjoy your holiday even when you don't have much to spend.Take away your focus on the value of gifts and focus on thoughtfulness.
- 2Forget about playing computer games or sitting on the couch watching the most popular movie of the season. You have to think of really unique activities that you probably won't do on ordinary days. This way, the memory of the holidays will be different and that will make it all the more memorable.Think of unique activities that you can do with your friends.
- 3Holidays are indeed the best time to catch up with people that you've ignored for some time because of your busy schedule. For example, you may want to visit your favorite teacher who has contributed a lot to you as a person or your previous boss whom you miss a lot already but do not have to see each other on a regular basis. While it is a normal tendency to still spend the holidays with people that you see regularly, adding this kind of variation will make it truly memorable for years. Catch up on some good old stories and share to each other what's going on in your lives and you will realize how much your horizon is expanding once again.[[Category:]]Meet with the people that you are too busy to meet during ordinary days.