Make The Holidays a Breeze with These 8 tips
As we bid farewell to the warm summer days and welcome the crispness of autumn, it’s the perfect time to start smart holiday planning and budgeting. Whether you’re looking forward to festive gatherings, shared meals, or the joy of gift-giving, there’s one thing that remains consistent—holiday expenses. To ensure that the holidays bring more joy, let’s delve into some expert advice on smart planning and budgeting for this special time of the year. Let’s make the holidays a breeze with these 8 tips:
1. Start with a Well-Defined Plan:
Planning is the foundation of a stress-free holiday season. Begin by creating a budget for the next celebration shortly after the current year’s festivities have ended. This gives you an entire year to calculate the costs and save accordingly. Your budget should cover all aspects of the holidays, including travel, food, gifts, and decorations. By saving monthly for the holidays, you’ll minimize the need for debt and reduce financial stress, allowing you to fully focus on the merriment.
Pro Tip: Get a Holiday Loan from Community Resource Federal Credit Union to help cover all aspects of holiday expenses you didn’t save for. Depending on your credit, you could qualify for up to $30,000 for 72 months! Learn More!
2. Make Thoughtful Lists and Stick to Them:
Just like Santa, creating lists is key to efficient holiday shopping. Make a list of names and gift ideas for each person. It’s a wise approach to ask your loved ones for gift ideas in advance to save time and ensure that your gift aligns with their wishes.
Pro Tip: Communicate your budget to family and friends to avoid awkward over-budget requests. Also, create a wish list for yourself that includes items at various price points to make it easier for gift-givers.
3. Get Creative with Your Gifts:
The value of a gift is not solely determined by its price tag. Handmade gifts carry sentimental value and come straight from the heart. They are especially meaningful when money is tight. There are numerous low or no-cost DIY projects available online, and the gift of your time or experiences can be priceless and budget-friendly.
Pro Tip: Ensure that your DIY projects don’t require expensive supplies, and keep an eye out for sales at local hobby shops throughout the year. Saving for the holidays year-round will also allow you to take advantage of discounted supplies.
4. Compare In-Person and Online Shopping:
While online shopping is on the rise, brick-and-mortar stores are working hard to lure customers back with competitive prices. The total cost of an item, including shipping, may be significantly lower when purchasing from a physical store.
Pro Tip: Many physical stores now price-match their online competitors. If a store refuses to match an online price, you still have the option to purchase online.
5. Manage Expectations for Children:
Shifting the focus from gifts to the true meaning of the holiday can be an important lesson for children. It’s also an opportunity to teach them about the value of money. Many households ask children to prioritize their wish lists, placing the most desired items at the top.
Pro Tip: Give your child a budget and ask them to ensure their requests fall within that budget.
6. Get Creative with Wrapping:
Traditional wrapping paper can be expensive and is often discarded. Get creative by using materials you already have at home. Colorful ads, newspapers, or even fall leaves can add a personal touch to your gifts without breaking the bank.
Pro Tip: Consider using cereal boxes or repurposing boxes from shipments you received throughout the year as alternatives to pricey decorative wrapping.
7. Host a Potluck Holiday Meal:
Hosting a holiday meal can be a challenging and costly task. By organizing a potluck, you delegate the responsibility of the meal to your guests, making it an enjoyable and collaborative experience.
Pro Tip: Consider starting a fun potluck tradition, such as a family and friends bake-off challenge, with the children acting as the judges.
8. Plan Your Travel in Advance:
Booking your holiday travel 60-90 days in advance can lead to significant cost savings. You’ll secure accommodations, and knowing your travel plans are in place can help alleviate holiday stress, allowing you to focus on other festive preparations.
Pro Tip: Carefully evaluate whether travel insurance is worth the cost by reading the cancellation policy of your booking.
A 2013 Pew Research study revealed that a significant portion of Americans disapprove of the commercialism or materialism of the winter holidays, with many expressing concerns about the expenses. In contrast, the study showed that the majority of Americans treasure the time spent with friends and family during the holiday season. By implementing some of these expert strategies, you can spend more time enjoying the holidays and less time dealing with buyer’s remorse.
The winter holidays are a time to create cherished memories and strengthen the bonds with loved ones. With careful planning, thoughtful budgeting, and a touch of creativity, you can ensure that your holidays are filled with joy, not financial worries. So, start your holiday preparations today and make this season one to remember for all the right reasons!