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How to Prepare for the Holidays Without Feeling Like Scrooge

Inflation and the costs of items seem to be on everyone’s minds lately. Stress levels are high due to the impact that inflation has on groceries, fuel, heating costs and credit card interest rates. This depressing news is making people feel that they have little control of their finances.

As we enter the holiday shopping season, it is easy to get “caught up” in the excitement of buying gifts for our loved ones. However, once the holidays are over and the January bills arrive, we may find that we are in deep financial trouble. The pain outweighs the pleasure and steals the joy.

There are strategies that you can use now that will help you survive the upcoming holiday season without debt and without feeling like Scrooge.

Holiday Tip 1– If it is necessary to cut back on spending this year, communicate that with your family. It doesn’t mean the holidays have to change dramatically. Families should discuss what is important to them this season and be willing to make changes if necessary.

Holiday Tip 2– Set a holiday budget and keep track of what you spend, including all expenditures, not just the cost of gifts. Figure costs of food, entertainment, decorations, travel expenses, holiday cards and postage as well as the costs of new clothes for the season. If possible, look at how much you spent last year to help set your budget.

Holiday Tip 3– Set spending limits for each person on your list as well as for the other items in your holiday plan. Write your limit on an envelope and keep it handy. When you make a purchase, subtract the amount from the limit and place the receipt in the envelope.

Holiday Tip 4– Decide how you are going to pay for holiday spending. If you plan to use only cash, leave your credit cards at home when shopping. If doing on-line shopping, stick to one credit card.

Holiday Tip 5– Avoid impulse shopping. Start shopping far enough in advance that you will not be pressured to buy the first item you see in a store or online. This allows you to compare similar items and take advantage of sales. To avoid impulse online purchases, place the item in the shopping cart and wait 24 hours to decide if you really need it.

Holiday Tip 6– Talk with family and friends about drawing names for a gift exchange, setting dollar limits on gifts or not exchanging among adults. Make gifts by hand or give gift certificates promising your time or talents. Offer gifts for such things as babysitting, car washing or a particular talent, such as photography. Give family keepsakes or pictures as gifts to create memories as well.

Holiday Tip 7– If entertaining family and friends consumes a large part of your holiday budget, consider pitch-in dinners instead of shouldering all the work and expense yourself. You could also invite people for dessert and coffee or a small luncheon, brunch or breakfast.

Holiday Tip 8– It is never too early to start planning for next year. Think ahead and take advantage of after-holiday sales. Good budgeting should take place all year long, not just the holidays.

The holiday season is an exciting time for everyone. With a bit of planning, your 2023 holiday spending does not need to make you feel like Scrooge. It’s a time to be with loved ones and enjoy the holiday celebrations. Ba humbug to letting debt create stress and steal the joy.

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