When the holidays are right around the corner, the spending that comes along with it isn’t far behind. You can barely turn on the TV or the radio without hearing Christmas carols or ads for this year’s hottest toys. Whether you’re buying gifts, visiting family, attending a party or throwing one of your own, the holidays season seems to get more and more expensive with each passing year. Here are some ways to get financially prepared for the season without getting stressed out or losing your holiday spirit.
If you know that your holiday spending might exceed your means, you might want to consider getting yourself a season side-hustle to avoid relying on title loans to see you through. If you have some free time and a car, you may be able to cash in with Uber or Lyft - these options give you the freedom to make the money you need this holiday season on your terms. With so many people traveling this time a year, finding a dog-sitting job with Wag or Rover, or a house-sitting gig with sites like MindMyHouse or TrustedHouseSitters, makes having a greener holiday just a click away.
Taking a more frugal approach to the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t still have some fun, you simply need to be prepared. What do your finances look like now? Start there and, instead of making a gift list, make a list of holiday essentials and prioritize them accordingly. Make a reasonable holiday budget you can stick to and plan your expenses around it. And why not channel the ghost of Christmas past and compare what did and didn’t work last year to maximize this year’s savings? With a little planning, you can do everything you need and still have money left over for what you want.
To make sure your accounts can handle your holiday spending, start saving as soon as possible so you don’t find yourself scrambling for a title loan at the last minute. Maybe cutting your Starbucks budget or brown-bagging it instead of eating out for lunch could help you make your gifting goals this holiday season. Lastly, do yourself a favor and get your credit card balances down to $0 – you’ll be grateful for the wiggle room that it gives you later.
Check out how money you have in savings and subtract your expenses for the month to determine what you can really afford. If you know already that your funds aren’t enough to see you through the holidays, use these tips to plan earlier next year and avoid this year’s pitfalls. It’s never too early to make sure next year goes off without a hitch. Whether your priority this year is being home for Christmas, being the host with the most, or playing Santa, you want to plan your spending to avoid issues later. After all, if you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail, which puts you on the naughty list. If you’re already thinking about how to get ready for next year, find out how to recover from your holiday spending!
Don’t forget to budget your time accordingly, especially if you’re driving on a deadline. The last thing you want to do is be in a rush when the holiday gridlock is at its worst. If you’re flying, Kayak helps you compare across airlines and travel sites like Orbitz, Priceline, and Expedia, all in one place; you can even bundle a rental car or hotel room for extra savings. If you have pets, you will also want to account for their ticket or stay. When you plan for these expenses, they won’t come back to bite you later.
If having the perfect holiday party is your main priority, start a party planning committee today and use Pinterest and Facebook to collect and share your ideas. Make your festivities BYOD (Bring Your Own Dish) so there’s a little something for everyone – it may mean you have a little something left over for some stocking-stuffers, as well. Having a holiday get-together can be a stressful endeavor for even the best party-planners, but if you pool your time and resources, everyone can have a good time for less.
Your basic gift list doesn’t usually change much from year to year, so try shopping ahead all year whenever possible and not restricting your holiday shopping to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Focus first on the kiddies and those you can’t go without gifting if money is still tight – close friends won’t mind a small or late gift, but little ones may be harder to convince. If malls aren’t for you, Honey is a great app for your browser that allows you to find and apply coupon codes to your transaction and maximize your savings. Ebates lets the avid online shopper get cash back for the things you buy online, too. If you use these fast money-savers all year long, you’re already paving your way to a guilt-free holiday.