We’re in the midst of what some people refer to as the “holiday alley.” This three-month stretch includes holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Not everyone celebrates each one, but most Americans observe at least some of them.
The holidays can be a lot of fun, but many individuals also report that they can be a source of stress. That might be because you’re getting together with family members with whom you may not always get along or because you’re spending more money than usual on gifts, parties, and clothes.
If financial stress is something that’s bothering you this year, keep reading. Here, we’ll discuss three ways to avoid the financial stress that can come with the holiday season.
1. Budget an Amount for Presents and Stick to It
During the holidays, most people spend more money on presents than anything else. If you’re not careful, you can max out your credit cards by purchasing extravagant gifts for family members and friends.
Doing so is an easy way to cause yourself holiday-related stress since you’ll need to pay off those balances in the weeks to come. You may be forced to consolidate credit card debt in January or February to try and simplify paying back what you owe.
You can avoid going over your budget and owing massive amounts on your credit cards after the holidays if you set a limit for how much you can put toward presents. Maybe you do this by having a set amount you’re willing to spend for each person. Another option would be to choose a total amount you can spend on gifts and then use that as a budgetary guide.
Remember that gifts don’t need to define the holidays. Most people feel that gathering with your loved ones and spending quality time with them are more important.
2. Make the Decision Not to Travel This Year
Some individuals live in the same city as most of their family members. This makes for easier travel plans since seeing their parents or other relatives might only require a short car ride.
Others live further away, which means spending money on gas or pricey airline tickets. Your holidays instantly become a lot more expensive if you’re shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a flight across the country.
You can always tell your family you would prefer not to travel this year for financial reasons. You might have a Facetime call with them on Christmas instead of being there. If they try to make you feel guilty for not traveling this year, explain the reasons for your decision, and be firm about it. If you explain this to them, they should understand why you’d prefer to remain at home during this holiday season, and perhaps they’ll even travel to you instead.
3. Be Creative and Save on Gift Costs
One more action you can take to spend less during the holidays and cut back on your financial stress is to get creative with your gifts. For instance, you might go to your local thrift stores and Goodwill outlets to try and pick out some presents instead of ordering through Amazon or buying at other brick-and-mortar retail stores.
You might make gifts for people instead of buying them as well. If you have a skill like knitting, you can knit someone a sweater or some socks with a festive holiday theme. Your relatives and friends should still appreciate that you got something for them. However, you won’t spend as much and put yourself in a deep financial hole that you’ll need to dig out of as the new year rolls around.
If you have no money to spend, you might give your significant other some “backrub tickets” they can cash in at any time. The point is the thought behind the gift and not so much what you spent on it.
Follow these three tips and you can greatly reduce the amount of financial stress the season brings.