We’re approaching that time of year again, friends! If you haven’t already started thinking about the holidays, I suggest that now is a good time to start. No, the reason I suggest that has nothing to do with the holiday sales, Black Friday, or any other retail-associated extravaganzas!
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Everyone knows what a hangover is, right? Well, the only difference between a “I may have had a little too much fun with my friends last night” hangover and a spending hangover is that, while a regular hangover will be gone in a day, a spending hangover might be felt for MONTHS. Failing to plan well for holiday expenses is something you really want to avoid!
9 Ways to Avoid a Holiday Spending Hangover
- Set a budget. Hopefully you already know how much you can afford to spend. It’s a lot easier to know how much this is if you already have a household budget. Whatever you do, make sure you set a budget that you can comfortably afford WITHOUT having to dip into savings or use a credit card (unless you have a savings account specifically for special occasions, that is!) Once you have set your budget- make sure you stick to it!
- Get organized! Start making a list NOW of all the people you plan to buy holiday gifts for. One of my biggest budget- busters over the last few years has been late additions to my holiday gift-buying list. If at all possible, I’d recommend leaving a little extra room in your budget for the last minute things that inevitably come up. For me in the past this has been co-workers! I never think to get gifts for these people but then they surprise me with a gift and I feel the need to reciprocate. If you leave a little breathing room in the budget you can be better prepared for things like this.
- Make a list. Not only is it a good idea to know who you’re going to buy for, but you need to know what you are buying for them! Or if you don’t already know what gift you are going to give them, having a good idea how much you can afford to spend on each person will be helpful to you.
- Get crafty. This is a great alternative for the last minute additions to the holiday list that I mentioned above. Once I finally got wise to the fact that there would always be co-workers who would end up surprising me with a last minute gift, I started to get crafty. I would make things like jars of hot cocoa mix decorated with fun ribbons in a Mason jar. This was an easy way to give a gift in return to people who gave me a gift, and as long as I kept a supply of ingredients at home it helped alleviate the stress of needing to run out and get a last minute gift for someone.
- Save up for it. The great thing about the holidays is that they occur at the same times every year. Christmas? Yep, it’s always December 25. Every. Year. So there’s really nothing unexpected about that, and by planning ahead and saving up weeks or months in advance, you can greatly improve your ability to cover those holiday-related expenses. I know some people who set up a savings account dedicated just to holiday expenses. They stash a little away every month and have a nice little pile of cash by the time the holidays come around! Wouldn’t THAT be an awesome feeling?
- Find ways to earn extra money before the holidays. The fact is that there are more holiday expenses than just those related to gifts, right? Some less obvious expenses associated with holidays can be travel costs, time off work, and extra childcare for kids out of school, etc. It all adds up! If you need inspiration for some awesome ways to make extra money before the holidays, check out this post.
- Avoid using credit cards. This one is easy! Unless you are 100% certain that you can pay off your card in full, you are much better off sticking with cash or your debit card.
- Save receipts and track your expenses. By keeping track of how much you are spending, you can avoid going over budget. This one little bit of housekeeping can help save you a lot of money and a lot of headaches from over-spending!
- Cash in on your rewards. If you have any credit card spending rewards to cash in, the holidays are a nice time to use those! It’s also a good idea to keep in mind the fact that shopping portals like Swagbucks and Ebates allow you to earn points that you can later redeem for cash or gift cards if you do your online shopping through the portals on their websites. They both offer a huge array of online retailers that you can shop at through their portals, including Amazon, eBay, and Wal-mart.
It does take a little planning and organization, but if you follow any or all of these tips you’ll be well on your way to avoiding a holiday spending hangover this year! Now that would really be something to celebrate. 🙂
Have you used any of these ways to avoid a holiday spending hangover? Do you have any other strategies to avoid spending regrets?
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