The holidays season is stressful because of the additional time commitments, the extra time spent with your extended family, not to mention the additional financial strain. Planning for the holidays now with a clear budget in mind can reduce the financial stress. With planning you can also reduce your holiday expenses without making it feel as though you have cut your Christmas back to nothing.
Getting started early on your Christmas shopping will help you reduce the pressure of shopping, because you have time to shop for the best price. Often the perfect present is not the most expensive. Shopping now will help you reduce the amount you spend, because you can take the time to find the best price on the jobs. It will make holiday shopping easier. Here are Christmas gift tips and ideas for your holiday office exchange.
Many people are struggling due to the economy, and may be relieved to rework the normal gift exchange within your family or your friends. Instead of giving gifts to everyone in your family, you can draw names or give family gifts instead of individual gifts. At work, you may choose to do a white elephant gift exchange instead of a secret Santa, which can reduce the price of the gifts you exchange.
Look at your other obligations in regards to the holidays and determine which ones you can cut back on. You may choose to do the holidays at home and visit family during a different time of year, or cut back on your ski trip over the holidays. If things are tight you can prioritize which aspects of the holiday celebrations are most important to you and limit the other ones to make it happen.
If you are doing well, you may consider giving more to charity this year than you normally do. In difficult times there are more people who need the help, and if you find a local charity that helps people with food or gifts for children. It depends on how much you give and what you think is the most important, but this help generally goes directly to those who need it most. Here are five place you can donate this Christmas to help others.
A holiday budget will help you stay on track. Most people only budget for gifts and leave out the other expenses such as holiday food, Christmas cards, Christmas travel and decoration expenses. Switching to cash for most of the gifts will make it easier to stay on budget. Avoid using a credit card for your budgeted items, since it is easy to overspend if you are using your credit card. Shopping Black Friday sales can help save you money as well.
Additionally, you can begin planning for next year now. In addition to saving money each month to cover Christmas gifts, you can begin purchasing gifts throughout the year. Keep track of you who have gotten a gift for so you do not buy more than one gift, and store them in one central location, so you do not lose the gifts you have already purchased. This allows you to take advantage of sales that happen throughout the year. Clothing items and other things that change quickly should not be purchased, but you may find novelty items and other things that would be good gifts.
Planning now will save you money and reduce the stress you feel at the holidays. Open discussions with friends, family and coworkers can relieve some of the holiday stress for more than just you. If you find that other people are not willing to make the cuts over the holidays you can find a way to purchase the gifts you need to, but spend less on each time than you normally would. It is important to not overextend yourself so you do not need to pay interest on the purchase you make over the next year.