When you’re working hard to get your finances in order, the idea of holiday spending can feel like a free-fall into madness. Who doesn’t get a little (or a lot) whipped up into the festivities and want to go overboard – or stress out over how to pull it off in the first place? Whether you shop ahead or wind up last minute holiday shopping every year, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally possible to handle all the holiday expenses without un-doing either your progress OR your chances to stay on track with your financial goals. Let’s look at how to approach holiday spending with all of that in mind.
Make a Holiday Spending Plan and Stick With It
I know, it seems so obvious, and yet it can be so tricky to get the infamous holiday shopping plan just right. The holiday season can create the kinds of emotional spending and impulse buying (psst – the big stores want it to be that way!) By sticking to your plan you can enter the new year still in line with your goals.
Adjusting to new spending plans is a popular move. According to the National Retail Federation’s holiday spending report, only one-third of consumers (29%) plan to spend more than they did last year, up from 22% in last year’s survey. And lots of Americans are planning to put that spending on their credit cards (that are charging up to 29.99% interest!).
- Track Last Year’s Holiday Spending
A great place to start when attempting to plan this year’s spending is to take a look at what you spent last year and take notes. Were there any areas where you spent more than planned? On the flip side, is there anything you wanted to do/have but couldn’t swing it? Use this as your guide for planning this year’s strategy.
- Evaluate Your Holiday Priorities
Next, list your holiday needs and evaluate them. Think of it all: activities, gifts, events, decorations, etc. Estimate how much you can afford so that you can prioritize. Then think about how you can get creative and use alternative ways to make your priorities happen with less money. Things like homemade options, looking for the best deals, planning experiences instead of material goods, and Secret Santa-type exchanges create a safe, comfortable (and fun!!) limit to holiday spending (especially if you’re a holiday social butterfly).
- Track Your 2021 Holiday Spending
Tracking your spending is key to making the whole thing work. Sticking with it means holding yourself accountable for what you’ve already spent and what you still want to spend. Time is always on your side when you regularly check in with your goals – you can always adjust as you go.
Here are some other ways to manage holiday spending:
Check your rewards! Credit cards offer so many benefits and rewards so it makes sense to take a closer look and see what can be utilized for holiday spending. Don’t let available discounts, miles, and other perks go unnoticed if they fit your needs and save you money.
Experiences make great gifts! Plus, experiences are the latest and greatest trend. The NRF reports that nearly six out of 10 consumers (57%) are planning to purchase experiences and intangible gifts, up from 50% last year.
Join forces! Holidays do not have to be extravagant or put you into debt. Coordinating with friends and family to arrange creative ways to celebrate can be a total game-changer. Need some inspo? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Holiday lights tour with the family – do some research online and you can find the best holiday houses in your city
- Holiday movies nights
- Holidays crafts – think popcorn garlands and paper snowflakes
- Homemade ornaments to fill up the Christmas tree
- Holiday baking is always fun and inexpensive
No matter what your holiday spending plan looks like, it helps to have people that support your financial goals. Need support this holiday season? Join my tribe if you are looking for help getting your $hit together this season or in the New Year. 2022 is coming up fast!