The warmth and good cheer of the holidays can grow cold quickly when the spending of December wears off in January and you must pay for the merriment spent. However, there are ways to keep the good feelings rolling financially. When you make a commitment to a “debt-free” holiday, you can ring in 2015 with a happier money outlook than seasons past.
Give a savings lesson
Saying “no” to a child with an extensive gift wish might be the hardest thing to do this time of year. The good news is that you can say “not yet” instead to some of those gifts. If your child has a high-cost present in mind, exceeding the current budget, start a savings fund aimed at buying that item later on. Delaying gratification not only allows your child to eventually have the thing he or she really wants, it also teaches your child a valuable object lesson on the value of saving for a goal.
If you’re looking to avoid digging a financial hole, make a vow to have a “zero-sum” holiday. Sell possessions online that net what you are going to spend, or pick up extra income with seasonal work. No matter how you approach it, striving to break even is a positive way to keep your holiday bottom line from going off track.
Limit gifts to one item per person
Create a list of all the people you’ll be buying for to avoid buying excess presents for one person. Always check off the names on your list as you go. Without a plan in place, it’s easy to load up on impulse items (not to mention gifting unevenly and unintentionally).
Donate time to a cause
Giving gifts doesn’t always mean spending money. Something just as meaningful—if not more so—is performing volunteer work in a loved ones’ name for a cause. Have a relative serving in the military? Consider devoting time to help injured veterans. Contributing to an effort close to the heart of your loved one can make for a gift that both you and the recipient will remember well into the New Year and beyond.
Find alternate “spending” power
Think about your existing rewards programs before you put any gift purchases on credit. Gather a list of rewards or loyalty programs you are a member of, such as grocery stores, gas stations, credit cards, department stores, restaurants, and big box retailers, and use those rewards to purchase gifts. Additionally, airline mileage can often times be exchanged for merchandise so find out what gifts you qualify for on the airline’s website.
During the celebration season, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of shopping for gifts or buying traditional holiday items. But keep in mind that this festive time also “presents” new traditions for yourself, family, and friends. You might find that with some planning, you can create some new customs that provide just as much joy with far less stress to your finances all year round.