By Sara Gilbert, GreenPath manager for Colorado and Wyoming
As we look at the calendar, the holiday spending season is upon us (and even earlier, it seems!). It’s never not too soon to start preparing for the holidays and thinking about ways that you might reduce your spending for the December buying season. There are many things that you can do to take and keep control of your spending during the upcoming holiday celebration.
First is to remember what the season really means to you and your family.
If you think of your fondest holiday memories, many probably do not involve the gifts.
The best memories for you may center around decorating the tree, baking cookies, church events, and family or friend time. Decorating, baking, and entertaining can be expensive, but with a plan, there are ways to keep these expenses in check.
Make a holiday budget and stick to it. How much do you have available to spend? Can you cut back on other items in your home budget over the next couple months to free up dollars for your holiday purchases? Maybe you have some money saved that you expect to be able to draw upon for your holidays.
If you haven’t been the greatest saver or this has been a rough financial year at your house, look for ways to trim gas, grocery, and other daily spending needs in the coming weeks so as to increase your holiday budget. Can you work some extra hours or pick up some side jobs? The goal also can be to not charge anything that you can’t pay off by January so as to not carry your holiday spending into the New Year.
Make a list for the persons on your giving list and set a limit on the amount you will spend for each person. Some families decide now to purchase gifts for the youngsters in the family and set a limit or forgo the gift giving for adults or extended family. Maybe this is a good year for your family to draw names or to conduct a white elephant gift exchange instead of purchasing so many gifts. This keeps up the tradition of gift giving without draining your financial resources. What creative talents do you have? You still probably have time to make some creative and inexpensive presents for the people on your list.
Use what you can from previous year’s decorations and avoid buying new holiday trappings. If you have family friends in the area, you might consider sharing or trading some of your decorations so you each can have some ‘new’ holiday decorations.
Giving cherished heirlooms might be a great way to say “I love you.” You may have family items that have been passed down to you or pieces of jewelry that you could start giving to family and friends instead of purchasing gifts.
A bit of creative thinking now, along with a holiday spending plan, can help you keep your season more about the celebration and less about the spending of money.