It’s no secret that the holidays can be stressful. You have a long list of gifts for your family, friends, co-workers, teachers and more. And while it feels good to be generous to loved ones, be careful not to do this at the risk of overspending and compromising your financial goals.
The 2019 Bankrate Holiday Gifting Survey found that six out of every 10 people feels pressure during the holiday season to overspend, and with overspending comes a significant amount of stress. In addition, the National Retail Federation estimates that people will spend 4% more this year than last year around the holidays. To help curb your spending this holiday season, follow these four tips to help get you into the new year regret-free.
Decrease overall spending
One way to cut costs this holiday season is to determine which expenses are necessary and which expenses are luxuries. As you examine your expenditures, you may need to cut back on eating out at restaurants, entertainment, or the clothes and electronics you don’t need right now. Another way to curb spending is to make handmade goods or treats for your loved ones. These gifts are both thoughtful and inexpensive. In addition, create a budget and stick to through the end of the year.
Consider increasing your income
Another way to curb spending – or come out even – this holiday season is to take on additional work that will increase your overall income. You can host a garage sale or sell services, like tutoring or shoveling snow for your neighbors. You could also take on another job. Whether you have experience in food service, bartending or retail, there are many industries that hire during the holiday season.
Limit credit cards
Credit card debt levels tend to rise during the holiday season. If you think you may use your credit card to help pay for holiday expenses, create a plan in advance that limits their use. The best way to do this is to create a budget that includes all the expenses you might incur, including gifts, holiday travel, food preparation and more. By having a budget and sticking to it, you are less likely to use your credit card throughout the holiday season.
Plan for next year
Because holiday decor and other seasonal items will likely be on sale after the season ends, consider stocking up now while prices are low. You can use your loot for decorating next year, and you won’t be in such a financial tight spot when November and December 2020 roll around. In addition, if you find any items throughout the year that you know your loved ones will enjoy, buy them when you see them instead of waiting until the last minute. If you spread your holiday shopping out throughout the entire year, the financial blow will have far less of an impact.
Finally, before next year’s holiday season rolls around, set a budget for yourself and start setting aside an amount monthly or weekly in order to accumulate the savings you need for the next holiday season. Making saving automatic can help you stick to your plan.
Abby Wendel is president of consumer banking at UMB Bank.