Avoid Holiday Spending Stress

Following is loosely based on an article in USNews that was titled “7 Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress”

We are finished with Black Friday and the buying season is in full swing.

But you still have time to pull together a financial plan for the holidays that will keep your bank account in the black.

So take some time before your spending spree starts to go through the following steps and keep some sense of sanity in Christmas spending this year.

Check your credit score. 

  • That may seem like a weird way to start holiday shopping
  • But if you are already in trouble with our credit score, overspending on Christmas will make things even worse
  • So it is a good idea to check your credit score before you head our shopping
  • and that may be a wake-up call to help you put some sanity into your holiday spending
  • If you are motivated to maintain or improve your good credit score you will be less likely to
    • overspend,
    • rack up credit card purchases you can’t pay back
    • or open new lines of credit when you are presented with deals that are just too good to be true.
  • We recommend using CreditKarma.com as it is a free service and will help you stay on top of your credit through weekly emails and suggestions on how to improve your score.

Decide who and how much

  • You need to plan for who and how much
  • Are you only going to buy for your immediate family
  • ]or do you want to buy for the extended family plus a bunch of neighbors and friends
  • If you only have a few people you can spend more on each one
  • If you have a lot of people on your list then you need to concentrate on buying inexpensive presents that won’t break the budget
  • BUT the tendency to overspend may be hard to resist, if you have a huge list of people

Set your budget and divide that by the number of people on your list.

  • First step in to figure out your budget for holiday in total – including gifts, travel, meals, decorations and donations
  • Then assign an amount to each of those categories
  • And figure an amount you can spend per-person
  • The more organized you are and the more detailed you are, the less chance you will bust the budget
  • Define an exact dollar amount for each person on your shopping list.
  • Once you hit that dollar amount, stop shopping for that person.

Window shop

  • Scope out purchases in advance. 
  • Use online shopping carts or “wish lists” as a way to avoid impulse purchases.
  • Select things for your basket or “wish list,” then walk away until tomorrow
  • To entice you to complete your purchase, some retailers will email coupons to those who have left a full cart on the site, making a future purchase less expensive.
  • For people who shop in a real store, do the same thing by scouting out purchases
  • Leave your purse or wallet at home and visit the stores which are most likely to have the gifts you want to buy
  • Both of these methods also help consumers avoid the scenario in which they buy one gift and then later find something else they like better.

Pick one day to go shopping with a list. 

  • When it comes time to actually buy, try to pick one day to complete all your shopping.
  • Be sure you have a complete list of specific purchases for each person on your list
  • Without a list, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed
    • Without a list, everything in the store is fair game to buy
    • That may mean over buying for one person and completely forgetting another one

Plan your credit card usage. 

  • You may have a budget for the holidays that includes a spending plan for everything
  • But without cash in hand, you are going to use credit to for your purchases
  • And that can mean disaster come January when the bills start rolling in.
  • There’s nothing wrong with using credit cards for holiday shopping IF you have a budget and plan to pay them off at the end of the month.
  • If you are racking up credit card debt hoping you can pay it off sometime in 2018, you are asking for trouble.

Think of alternatives to store-bought gifts. 

  • One of the best ways to avoid being financially stressed during the holidays is to skip the expensive store-bought gifts altogether.
  • This approach has benefits beyond simply saving money.
  • Maybe you can make baked goods for some of the neighbors,
  • or maybe you can offer services such as mowing the lawn once a month for an elderly neighbor
  • For family members, how about a digital picture album of fun times you shared during the previous year

The holidays are closing in fast, but there is still time to take these proactive steps to avoid finding yourself in a financially stressful situation.

Once Christmas 2017 is finished, we highly suggest saving 1/12 of your Christmas budget each month.

If you say you can’t afford to do that, what makes you think you can PAY 1/12 of the charges you made for Christmas 2017, PLUS interest.

After all, the buying frenzy that occurs every year at Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the baby in the manger

The gift of God made man

The only one and true gift we need at Christmas.