The holidays over the fourth quarter have a stressful reputation for a reason. There are wonderful traditions, time with family, being generous with our gift-giving and charity, and enjoying celebrations. There’s also the overload of bustling activities during a time we should be nestling indoors, an immense effort that goes into making everything happen, and holiday over-spending.
Stress-Free Holiday Spending
What if this year could be different just by a shift in perspective? The following tips can help make you the best gift-giver of the season, and make your holiday spending stress-free.
Have a Spending Limit and Stick To It
According to predictions by Kiplinger, American holiday spending in 2018 is expected to increase by 3.5% to 4% over 2017 spending. That will be well over 1 trillion dollars. With low unemployment rates and more money in the pockets of employees, this could be a go-ahead to go big on holiday spending.
First, be sure your holiday spending stays within your means to avoid New Year credit card balances:
- Keep holiday spending in check by setting a limit on spending. Then stick to it! That may mean keeping cash in an envelope as a visual cue, or carefully tracking spending if paying for holiday spending on credit cards.
- Start setting aside money now in a holiday fund to either contribute or fully fund that holiday spending limit
- Don’t forget all the holiday spending outside of gifts: food, decorations, entertaining, party-wear and travel. Those expenses add up fast and should be accounted for in your budget or holiday spending limit.
Quality over Quantity
Second, think about time and personalization, quality over quantity. Gifts you give do not have to be about how much money is spent on them. Likewise, one gift can be just as special or meaningful as more than one. You can get creative on meaningful gifts that do not cost a lot of money. A coupon booklet to be redeemed for special activities together can be very much appreciated by young and old alike.
In addition, you can find great deals and items if you keep your eyes peeled not only around the holidays but year-round. Estate sales, Consignment Shops, Outlets and going out of business sales are a gold mine for high quality, rare or unique finds at bargain prices. Not only will these finds not break the bank but spreading out spending on gifts rather than all in one or two months of the year can really help with cash flow.
Give an Experience
Third, give an experience. Creating a memory, for example, with a day trip or vacation together is an amazing gift. Giving a gift card to the movie theatre for the family to enjoy an outing is super fun. Donating time together or fundraising together for a charitable cause would also be very fulfilling and meaningful. With our busy lives, sometimes the gift of time and togetherness is the most precious gift of all.
Along similar lines, one of my grandmothers always gives a donation to Heifer International on our behalf. Along with the note that we’ve bought a cow, or chicken or a goat for the impoverished community, there is a story about what that animal means for that family or village. It’s a pretty cool gift and makes you feel good as the giver and receiver.
Another idea: instead of the hoopla of decorating, cooking, gift wrapping and awkward family exchange because everyone doesn’t get along, you could just pack up and spend the holidays on a cruise, or tropical destination. This is also a much-appreciated gift when you’ve reached the point of limit on space of physical items in your living space!
Michelle Boss is a Personal Finance Coach and Certified Financial Education Instructor. She is certified through the NFEC. As a Professional Money Coach, Michelle helps successful women get smart with money so they can grow their wealth and finally feel financially secure. With Michelle’s Group and One-to-one Coaching Sessions, she helps take the Fear out of Finances.