It’s already nearing the Holiday Season as we find ourselves moving through October. Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas are intended to be the most festive times of year, but for many they can strain finances and leave others emotionally exhausted. Instead of getting discouraged or becoming high strung take a moment to reflect and read this article.
Take some time to sit down and see what is most important to you and your family. Since we are in October, chances are you have already made plans with relatives. Ask yourself first what decisions you have already committed to. Consider changing plans if you know they will cause financial strain on you and your family. If these are non-negotiable, consider the following questions.
- Which holiday foods are most important to you and your family? Make sure to choose a main course that everyone likes and to maximize your money for food.
- Can you save on a Christmas tree or other decorations? If you are leaving town or have a more mature family does it really matter to everyone that you have a Christmas tree.
- If you have children would you be willing to cutback on what you and your spouse can spend on each other or your other relatives? Some couples discuss ahead of time to save or skip on gifts for each other and/or buy small gifts for extended family to ensure they can fulfill their children’s desires.
Once you have weighed what is important to your family take these steps to ensure you maximize and plan for the Holidays.
- Have a budget in place. Be realistic and plan for unexpected expenses. Keep in mind that you might potentially go over budget. If a dollar over $1000 will really break the bank, budget less so you have plenty of cushion. For the following year consider setting aside a certain amount of money each month.
- After you budget, start looking for gifts and collect things that you know someone in your close circle will like. For the future consider searching for your gifts throughout the year as early as January after all the festivities.
- Get a seasonal job as your schedule permits or have a garage sale for extra income.
- Collaborate with other family members to give an extra special gift to your person(s) of choice. Lots of siblings save together to buy an extraordinary gift for their parents.
- Giving to charities always seems to result in positive return. Also, organizations like UNICEF offer to give gifts in the form of charity donations which you can give to in a family’s name.
Budgeting and planning can alleviate lots of this Season’s stress. You can pick up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money makeover and in the back, you can work out your monthly or annual budget including holiday expenses which will help for the years to come.