Holidays can be very expensive and it can be a real headache. This simple fact is the cause of much holiday stress and is responsible for taking away much of the joy of the season. Whether you’re purchasing Chanukah gifts or setting a Christmas table for your entire extended family, it often seems as though the cost of the holidays piles up as the winter days pass.
Researchers have proven that this financial stress doesn’t just take away from your bank account in the new year, but that it takes away time and enjoyment throughout the season. In fact, over half of the respondents say that they would be relieved to spend more time with the people they care about without the pressure of purchasing gifts they may or may not be able to afford.
While many of us might want to forgo gifts this holiday season, we know that it doesn’t always work out that way. Instead of busting your budget and entering the new year without any funds, try these creative ways to make a realistic holiday budget.
Win The Points Game
We can’t recommend carrying credit card debt, but if you use your credit card carefully throughout the year, you may end up with an unexpected source of holiday income. First, check to see if your credit card gives you access to any rewards programs and come up with a plan to use it regularly in a way that you can pay off each month. By the time the holidays roll around, redeem your points for gift cards or other items that you can wrap up and put under the tree.
Don’t get wrapped up in the idea that a gift has to be shiny and new to be meaningful or useful. If your budget is tight, think about passing on a family heirloom to a younger family member. The key to this gift is to make sure the family heirloom is meaningful and relates to the recipient in some way. This holiday gift isn’t your chance to give away junk that no one wants, save that for a garage sale. Think about the younger members of your family: is your niece an aspiring chef? Gift her your mother’s cast iron skillet. Is your nephew into comic books? Wrap up your childhood comic books–don’t worry, they are vintage now!
Want to make a big statement on a small budget? Enlist others to help you pool your resources and give a group gift. This idea is especially useful when you want to get your parents a lavish gift or an experience they’ll remember, but can’t swing it on your own. However, if you are going to give a group gift make the terms clear to all contributors up front. Group gifts work best if everyone knows the final price up front and agrees to an equal split or if everyone agrees to contribute what they can and purchase a gift based on the total collected. Just be careful and considerate of other people’s finances. You don’t want to put others in an awkward position of contributing more than they can afford for a group gift.
Is generational sprawl taking the fun and affordability out of your holidays? Think about your gift-giving traditions and give them a twist. Try doing a Secret Santa gift exchange and cap the total gift at $5, $10 or whatever amount is right for your family. It can also be festively fun to do a gift swap in place of individual gifts. The important thing about adding a new tradition is to make sure that the rules are clear to everyone! You don’t want someone getting their feelings hurt because they expected a thoughtful gift during a tacky white elephant gift exchange.
Always remember, the holidays are about coming together and celebrating a season of love and generosity. It may be difficult, but it is possible, to show your love and your generous spirit in ways that honor tradition and your budget.