How to Keep Your Financial Sanity During the Holidays

The holidays are always a magical time of year.

There are Christmas songs, hot chocolate, festive lights and decorations, and generally good cheer. This is the time of year that is supposed to bring families together and reflect on the year that has passed. Though this time of year is one filled with laughter and joy, for many the thought of gift giving and holiday spending can really put a downer on all the holiday cheer.

Every year we feel the pressure to buy elaborate gifts to show the people we care about just how much they mean to us. Bosses, employees, friends, family, long-lost cousins, everyone gets a gift and before you know it you’re starting off the new year in debt and back to square one on your financial journey. So, how do we prevent this from happening, easy, stop having so many friends….just kidding! (But really, I only have like 7 friends, two of which are my dogs and my holiday shopping list is a breeze)

Here are my 5 tips to help you avoid holiday overspending:

Tip 1. Budget

I don’t know how else to break this to you, I know this might come as a surprise, but you’re not a billionaire. I know, I know, I just busted the dream cloud above your head (see why I only have 7 friends), but because you don’t have unlimited funds, you need to set a budget and stick to it! Take a good hard look at your finances and make a realistic budget of what you can spend on holiday shopping. I promise you that your sister-in-law will understand you couldn’t get her the Kitchen Aide mixer she’s always wanted.

Tip 2. Start Early

The holidays land during the same time each year, year in, year out, you know when it’s going to happen. So don’t procrastinate and wait until December 23 to purchase all your gifts. Give yourself some time to shop around and find the best deals. One of my really good friends does her holiday shopping year round. When she’s at the store, she’ll see something that she thinks someone might like and she buys it, puts it away in her “holiday chest” and then when the holidays roll around she doesn’t have to stress. Pure genius I tell you.

Tip 3. Get Creative

This is a great tip for those of you that have like a million coworkers, employees or family members you feel you need to get something for. You would be amazed at what you can create with a couple of items from the dollar store. A few years back, one of my coworkers bought regular white ceramic mugs from the dollar store and wrote personalized sayings on each with a Sharpie, she sealed it and baked the mugs. It was so thoughtful and inexpensive! The holidays aren’t about how expensive the gift is, but the thought behind it.

Tip 4. Bargain Hunt

I generally refuse to spend full price on anything (literally, it’s like the only positive character trait I have) which is why I am a huge advocate for bargain hunting. Everything you are looking to buy is sold at 100 different retailers, online and in stores. Therefore, there is no excuse when it comes to looking for the best deal. There are even apps like Honey that search the web for you on who has the best deal and they give you coupons (taking all the manual labor out of it). Looking for the best deal will help ensure that you stay within budget and still manage to buy all the stuff you want.

Tip 5. Remember What the Holidays Are All About

Sure everyone loves getting a gift, but remember that this time of year is not about gifts and spending money, it’s about family. Your real family, your friend family, your work family, these are the people that see you on a daily basis throughout the year. They are the ones that see you in the good times and the bad times, they are the reason we all come together during this time of year to celebrate. Love and kindness are two gifts you can always give that people cherish beyond material possessions.

I hope this holiday season is one filled with so much laughter you pee your pants and so much cheer you have a permanent smile. I hope your wallet and stomach stay full, and your family doesn’t drive you too crazy. Remember to enjoy this time of year with those you love.

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