The winter holidays are coming up quickly, and it's time to begin preparations. If you are in a tough spot financially, and especially if you are near the brink of bankruptcy, spending tons of money on holiday shopping is the last thing you want to do.
Spending too much has the potential to quickly and easily push your budget over the edge. For this reason, it is important to plan your holiday spending very carefully and keep it simple this year.
Below we have collected a list of ways you can keep your holiday spending in check without cutting out all the fun the holiday celebrations can bring. Consider implementing these to ensure you have a happy, stress-free holiday season that won't leave you in a financial hole.
Resist the Credit Card
The number-one thing you will need to do in order to keep your finances in good order during the holiday season is to resist using a credit card or taking out a loan. A loan, no matter how small, is debt that will need to be repaid after the holidays are over, and debt is never a good thing to have hanging over your head when your budget is tight.
Additionally, using a credit card or taking out a loan will mean you are spending much more on gifts, decorations, and fancy dinners than such things are actually worth - since you'll be paying interest on top of everything.
If you have a large number of people to purchase presents for, consider making small but meaningful gifts for them. Going handmade will save you a ton of money and adds sentimental value to your gifts.
Sometimes the very best gifts aren't things, but experiences. To provide your loved ones with a present they will always remember while still saving some money, consider offering your family and friends "experience" gifts. These could be something as simple as a game night or movie night at home, or you can get more elaborate and offer them an afternoon of bowling or rock climbing.
If you choose an activity that costs money, make sure to save some cash by purchasing a voucher for the activity through Groupon. Be sure to watch for discount codes and don't make your Groupon purchase until you have a code for at least 15% off.
Websites such as Swagbucks and apps like SurveyMini offer users gift cards in exchange for taking surveys. If you get started early enough, you can easily save up enough points to order a gift card or two to help cover some of your holiday expenses or give as gifts.
Host a Potluck or Skip to Dessert
If you usually host a big holiday dinner, consider making the event a potluck this year. This will split food costs between everyone so you aren't left with the entire bill, but your family still gets their dinner together.
If funds are really tight, you can take this a bit further by opting to hold a dessert party instead of a full dinner. Hold your event after dinner time and ask every guest to bring a dessert to share. Because dessert is much easier to prepare than an entrée, this will save you quite a bit of money.
Bring in Some Extra Money
If you just don't see yourself covering all of your holiday expenses on your current salary, you may want to find ways to bring in some extra money for the season. Some of the best ways to bring in quick cash include:
- Babysitting — With all of the parties and events happening, many parents will be looking for sitters, making babysitting a great money-making opportunity!
- House-sitting — Many people will be heading out of town. Take advantage of this by offering house and pet sitting services.
- Gift Wrapping — If you enjoy wrapping presents, you can make some cash off your skill by offering gift-wrapping services to busy people.
- Selling Crafts — Crafty people can make some extra money during the holiday season by making and selling holiday decor, as well as gift items.
Consider Free Activities
Lastly, in order to save on entertainment, make sure to take advantage of the many free holiday activities offered in your community. From events at your public library to Christmas caroling, and from taking a drive to see all the beautiful decorations to children's activities offered by various shopping malls, there are tons of things to do during the holiday season that won't cost you a dime.
Keeping your finances in good health during the holiday season is a difficult task, but certainly not impossible. Happy Holidays from Start Fresh Today!