Christmas spending demands seem to attack from every direction. With so many costs to cover, managing money is particularly challenging during this annual period of celebration. In fact, as seasonal spending ramps-up it can be hard to keep outgoings within your means. If you’re unable to cover expenses as you make purchases, the price to be paid for overindulging over Christmas is debt carried-over into the new year, which might take months to clear.
Do you really want to flip that final calendar page with a mountain of debt waiting for you in the new year?
If you’re committed to coasting through Christmas without building avoidable debt; use the following tips to help shape wise spending decisions during the festive season. Even if the damage has already been done this year, adopting sensible spending strategies can help you prepare for the future and avoid making the same financial mistakes over and over again.
Hacks for an Affordable Christmas
Plan Your Presents – Walking in to the retail fray without a plan is a good way to bust your Christmas budget. Instead, plan ahead on presents, making a list of what you need and how much you intend to spend on each item. With this solid budget and shopping list guiding you, you’re sure to save money, compared to jumping-in without a game plan.
Get Ahead – Saving on a present or cutting some of your holiday entertainment spending are both financial victories – but only if you bank the savings. Once you’ve made a gain, it can be tempting to divert the money to your holiday spending wish list. Instead, put the money in savings or devote the windfall to one of your long-term goals (house, college, retirement)
Focus on Finding the Best Value – Price isn’t the only concern when choosing presents – particularly when you’re spoiling friends and family with items they wouldn’t buy for themselves. When spreading the holiday spirit, you want to gift quality presents that last. Instead of price-shopping for the cheapest items available, use consumer reviews to find the best values. There’s no shortage of feedback about popular items, so it isn’t unusual coming across conflicting opinions online. With multiple reviewers weighing in, however, it is easy to spot trends in the way buyers feel about the products, giving you reliable first-hand information about some of the presents you’re considering.
Buy it Right – Paying out of pocket for your holiday presents, travel, and entertaining expenses sets you off on the right foot for the new year. Not only does paying as you go eliminate lingering debt, but you’ll also save money on the cost of interest and financing fees. If the prospect isn’t realistic, and you do need outside help paying for some of your festivities, the type of financing you select has a big impact on the amount you’ll ultimately repay.
Each case is unique, so your circumstances can help you sort out the best approach to Christmas financing. If you have a job, for example, paying expenses with a short-term no-credit-check loan costs less than running up a holiday credit card balance and then paying interest every month, until it’s wiped clear. It is up to you to compare terms online and calculate the most cost-effective way to meet your obligations without taking-on more than you can afford.
Look Out For Hidden Costs – Shopping for deals can become an obsession during the Christmas season. With online venues at your fingertips and firms fighting for your business, a little leg work can pay big dividends, yielding ultra-low prices on gifts for friends and family.
Although remote shopping is pretty straightforward, deals sounding too good to be true may have hidden costs. Among them, the price of shipping has a big impact on the total price of consumer goods. For help making comparisons, think in terms of an item’s “landed” cost, which includes the retail price and total shipping charges.
If you already feel buyer’s regret, reconciling the season’s holiday spending, it’s probably time to change your approach. Don’t fall into the same financial traps year after year. Instead, use these holiday hacks to start saving money on presents and other seasonal expenses.