1. The first thing you want to do is look at your spending from last year. This will be especially easy to do if you use online banking. All of your purchases made on your debit or credit card will be at your fingertips, ready for evaluation. Look at what you spent and where you spent it. Then challenge yourself to spend less this year. Give yourself a strict holiday budget and stick to it.
2. Take inventory of your home. Thoroughly clean your house before the holidays. Chances are you will be surprised by what you still have left from last year. Assess how much wrapping paper, bows, tape, décor, etc. that you have and actually need. Then instead of paying hiked prices for these goodies at your local big box retailer, shop garage sales for holiday items. Decorations, candles and holiday trinkets are favorites for re-sale.
3. Reducing spending isn’t the only way to boost your bottom line. Consider increasing your income by picking up a seasonal job. Think about doing ‘odd jobs’ for others – like babysitting or tutoring. Feel free to spend most of this extra income on your fanciful holiday needs. But do yourself a favor and commit to putting at least 10 or 20% away into your emergency savings.
4. The holiday season is notorious for giving folks a reason to overspend and go into deep debt on credit cards. With annual percentage rates hovering in the high 20%’s, that’s a lot of money not well spent. This holiday season, make every effort to pay cash for all of your purchases. Trust me; you’ll be happy you did when your credit card statements arrive in January.
5. Remember that the word “no” is a complete sentence. You do not have to accept every holiday invitation that is sent to you. Holiday parties mean hostess gifts, secret Santas, drinks and all kinds of reasons to spend extra do re mi. Feel free to turn some down if you need to. The holidays are busy and you don’t have to do everything.
6. If you, or someone you know, is good creatively, think of ways to give gifts using unique talents. Maybe you can make a website or brochure for a family-owned business, or an online photo montage for a loved one who can’t make it home for the holidays. These things are valuable gifts with virtually no out-of-pocket expense.
7. Put social media on pause. Stop exposing yourself to everything everyone else is doing. Try to tune out the conspicuous consumption of others. Forget the shopping updates on Instagram and your friends’ Facebook statuses from the mall. There is a good chance that those big spenders are even bigger debtors. Remember, you are on the right path.