Financial Tips to Avoid Going Broke During the Holidays

The holiday season is waiting in the wings of fall. Depending on how many friends, family members, and co-workers are on your list, you may have several people to buy gifts for. If you aren’t careful, you can easily start 2020 deep in debt, a fact that most certainly will not leave you smiling at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Give yourself the gift of financial security this year; it is most certainly a gift that gives back again and again. 

Make a list of people and the amount you want to spend on them

Sit and write down everyone you want to buy a gift for. Next to their names, note how much you want (or can afford) to spend on them. It is better to write down how much you want to spend on each person on your list rather than what you want to buy everyone on your list. The reason is that writing down the amount rather than the item lets you know for a fact how much you will spend. 

Start saving early

It may be too late for this tip, but it is one you can use next year. If you like spending on those closest to you, start saving up as early as possible, putting back a bit of money every month throughout the year. That way, it’s easier for you to budget for holiday spending rather than feel as if you have to take out a small loan to cover everyone on your list. 

Talk to your family and friends 

You may have financial struggles this year, maybe you’re filing bankruptcy chapter 7 in Michigan or recently lost a job, or perhaps your relatives or friends are the ones going through a rough financial time. Either way, sit down and talk with your loved ones about how you want to handle gift-giving this year. Maybe you could all sit down for a potluck dinner this year, make creative IOUs, or make each other’s gifts rather than buy them. 

Buy with cash rather than a card

When you swipe your card, it’s easy to forget just how much you’re spending. On the other hand, when you buy with cash, you can physically see how much money you spend and how much you have left in your wallet. Once you finish your list and decide how much you want to spend, go to an ATM and withdraw that amount. When you’re out of cash, you’re done with holiday shopping. 

Think about the credit card you use 

If you do use plastic rather than cash to take care of your shopping, think twice about the card you use if you have more than one. Consider the rewards your cards have and how they can benefit you. For instance, maybe one card offers cash back or airline miles that you can use to travel to loved ones this holiday season. Depending on the reward and your level of financial discipline, it may make sense to put all your purchases on a single card and immediately pay it off with the money you were originally going to use to buy gifts. That way, you don’t have to worry about carrying a balance and incurring interest fees.  

Don’t forget the extras

Be sure you think about the cost of gift wrapping, shipping, ribbons, gift bags, and any other extras that add to the price of individual gifts. Even if you decide to handle most of these extras yourself, you still may need to go out and buy up supplies. 

Shop around 

Be sure to comparison shop before pulling the trigger on a gift. Holiday deals seem to come earlier each year; a little waiting and diligence can seriously pay off at big box stores. You may also want to think about buying local, as that could be a good way to get what you need and keep your money in your community.

Use apps and browser extensions

No matter if you prefer to do your shopping online or immerse yourself in the thick of the holiday crowds, you can benefit from using apps and browser extensions while shopping or putting items on hold before picking them up at the store. You can find online specials and discounts this way, allowing you to save some extra cash. Keep an eye out for opportunities to combine coupons, loyalty program rewards, and online deals. Even if you only get cash back rather than an actual discount, you’re still saving money. 

With some careful planning and foresight, you can slide and glide your way through gift shopping during the holidays without stumbling over a financial blunder.

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