We are just under one week until Christmas day. While I have been long done with my shopping (as I prefer to budget throughout the entire year) many people will be scrambling to finish up or even complete the entirety of their shopping. I began thinking about how much money is often wasted or over extended during this time of year. Sadly, many people spend far beyond their means; they are paying off credit cards well into the New Year. In the spirit of avoiding excessive consumerism, here are some tips to avoid over extending yourself this Christmas!
Budget, Budget, Budget
Be sure to create a specific budget for Christmas presents and related items. Be sure to make a realistic assessment. If you do choose to take money from savings or charge on credit cards, spend reasonable amounts that can quickly paid back by following your regular budget after Christmas.
Keep Organized with a List
Take a few minutes to list every person you need to purchase a gift for. Take time to brainstorm ideas, research prices for the items, and set a specific budget for each person. That way you can stick to your plan once you hit the stores.
Hide Your Credit Card
If possible, hide your credit card. When you decide to shop, withdraw the budgeted amount of cash from your account and stick to your plan for each person. You will be unable to overspend if you only have access to cash.
DIY When Possible
Commercialism and excessive consumerism have promoted the message that how much we spend is how much we care. For those with smaller budgets this can be disheartening. There are oodles of DIY projects that make affordable gifts that are from the heart. These gifts send the message that you truly care without causing you to spend beyond your means.
Be Aware of Extra Spending
With the stress of the holiday season, it is easy to eat out more than usual. Additionally, while shopping it is common to splurge on a coffee or lunch out. Be aware of these extra expenditures and be sure to add them into your Christmas budget.
Prepare in Advance for Travel
Due to the fact that I live roughly 2,000 miles from my family, the holidays are often a time for traveling. This can be quite costly, yet important. I am sure to research hotels in advance, book online to get the best price, and purchase my airline tickets well in advance to find lowest price. I also try to stay within a “travel food budget” as not to incur excessive expense in eating out.