The holiday season is known for lavish food, gifts and time spent with friends and family. Of course this does come at a price, and sometime after New Year’s Day rolls around we find ourselves resolving to keep our finances in check in the coming year, perhaps to work off some turkey weight too.
The best way to tackle this resolution is to start immediately. Not after December is over, not after New Year’s Day, but today is the best day to start.
Take Charge America is a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency that offered a few helpful tips for keeping the finances in check. As for the weight loss you might have to find a trainer, join a gym and adjust your diet.
Mike Sullivan, spokesperson of Take Charge America, noted:
The hysteria of the holidays can impact even the most frugal among us. The holidays are a time for making memories with friends and family – but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the season. Conscientious giving, combined with willpower and creativity, will make a huge difference for people trying to keep their costs in check.
First of all, Take Charge America suggests “making a list and checking it twice.” Holiday giving can be very expensive, and it’s hard to stick to a budget if you’re scrambling to find gifts at the last minute. Determine the right present for each person on your list ahead of time, and avoid the frantic overspending resulting from poor planning.
Second on the list is joining the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement. If you have the time and inclination, making gifts for those in your life can be cost effective, and especially thoughtful. For grandparents, this could mean framing a child’s artwork, while coworkers might enjoy a hand-stamped mug and homemade hot cocoa. It’s an opportunity to give a fun and meaningful present without spending a fortune.
Next is to make a “batteries-not-included” fund. Often it’s the little things that can blow the budget. Things that come to mind are buying batteries for toys and electronics, picking up last-minute supplies for a holiday party or buying a gift for someone you accidentally left off your list. Unfortunately, these expenses are tough to avoid, so set aside a slush fund to cover the costs.
Fourth on the list is that, instead of purchasing gifts for every last niece, nephew and cousin, draw names and find the perfect present for just one person. Ultimately this reduces the stress both financially and personally.
The last piece of advice that Take Charge America had to offer was to be careful how much you’re “saving.” It’s simple to justify purchases when every last retailer is offering holiday discounts, and it’s easy to get swept up in the fun and excitement of scoring good deals. However, you’re not really saving money when you buy things you don’t really need or even want. Second-guess every unplanned purchase to root out and avoid unwise spending.