During this time of year, it’s difficult to keep your holiday spending under control. During the holiday season, it’s easy to just let extra spending creep in and overwhelm the budget a little bit. It’s easy to justify spending more when it’s on a gift for someone else, or if you are doing something “in the holiday spirit.”
Instead of letting things get out of control, though, it’s important to keep some of your spending in check. Here are 3 tips that can help you from having your pocketbook hijacked by the season:
1. Consider Why You are Giving Gifts
One of the first things to consider is the why behind your gift-giving. Are you just randomly giving gifts for no real reason? Are you trying to impress someone? In reality, the best reasons to give a gift are out of genuine affection and a desire to say “I love you.”
Consider why you are giving gifts, and don’t worry overly much about getting a bunch of gifts meant to encourage others to give to you, or that are designed to match a past or presumed future dollar amount of a gift given to you. You can go crazy getting caught up in that game. Instead, really think about why you give gifts, and why you give them to certain people.
Think about putting together an exchange where everyone in your circle draws one name to give to. These types of arrangements can really help you save money, and keep the gift giving from getting out of hand.
2. Remember that Thoughtful is Better than Expensive
One of the best things you can do is remember that thoughtful is better than expensive. Instead of giving an expensive gift, think of something that the recipient would really enjoy. Make it unique and personal, rather than expensive. In many cases, an inexpensive homemade gift put together with a lot of thought and love is much more appreciated than something expensive. It’s also possible to find unique and interesting gifts that you can buy slightly used.
The thought really does count. And anyone whose friendship with you is based on a high dollar value, rather than a high emotional value, isn’t really a true friend.
3. Set a Budget and Stick To It
Once you have your priorities straight, and you are ready to give thoughtful gifts rather than pricey gifts, you can set a budget. Create a budget for your holiday shopping. For many people, it helps to create a separate budget, just for the holidays.
You do have to be careful when you make the budget, though. It helps to plan ahead, saving up for the holidays over the course of the year, so that you don’t break the bank during the holiday season. Be realistic about what you can afford to spend, and say “no” if you have to. Sometimes that means not participating in a holiday gift exchange, or just limiting dollar amounts on gifts.
Be creative in the ways that you give gifts, and make suggestions to others about gift exchanges. Be a leader in a less-materialistic holiday season, and everyone around you will benefit from being able to keep their spending from getting out of hand.
Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.