Christmas is just around the corner and for many families that means a lot of extra spending. On average, consumers spent $786 per person last year. And more than half of shoppers plan to do the same this season. But for many people struggling to keep their finances intact, the holiday season can seem a little overwhelming with all the purchases to make from decorations, to dinners to donations and, of course, gifts. Here are some tips for scaling back a bit to make this December more affordable.
Agree Not to Give
This one might sound a little Scrooge-ish, but it can be very effective. Tactfully sit down with family and friends and make a pact to pare down your present list. You can do this through a number of clever options that will keep the holiday fun without breaking the bank. First off, you can agree not to exchange any gifts. If that sounds a bit harsh, then opt for a children only rule.
Or try a Secret Santa exchange where everyone draws one name and brings a gift for that person only. This way, everyone still enjoys unwrapping but without excessive expense. A White Elephant exchange is another fun way to make sure everyone takes something home while enjoying a fun game. And you can set a price limit to keep costs down or bring homemade and gently used items instead. Your friends and family will probably appreciate your having the courage to suggest this because it will relieve their wallets to. And to be excruciatingly realistic, a lot of Christmas presents go unused anyway. On top of saving money, you will cut back on the new “junk” that that you take home.
Cash in Your Gift Cards
A surprising number of gift cards from previous holidays and other events are probably floating around your house somewhere. Now is the perfect time to use these for purchasing Christmas goodies. You can use retail cards to purchase presents and grocery store cards to build the perfect feast. You can even re-gift unused cards for a terrific present.
Host a Potluck
Another large expense that comes with the holidays is parties. Whether it is your traditional family get-together or the world’s ugliest Christmas sweater soirée, throwing a great shin-dig can add up fast. If you really want to save, then follow this important rule: avoid trying to impress your friends and family. Because you love them, it is easy to go over-the-top with decorations, favors, drinks and food. But keep your actual budget in mind and find creative ways to make the evening special without plunging into minor debt. Ask people to join you for a potluck where you share the costs of the meal and create homemade decorations.
Dealing with Debt
The extra expenses of the season leave many people considering short-term loan options like TitleMax. While these options can be helpful in a tight spot, it is important to be aware of your purchases now so that you don’t end up spending the entire new year paying off last Christmas. Use cash where you can to help yourself be more mindful of how much is going out. And take the time to create a budget and stick to it.
With these helpful tips for saving money, you will be ready for a fantastic holiday season without worrying about the bill at the end of the month.
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