A recent Gallup poll found that American adults plan to spend an average of $830 this year on Christmas gifts. I don’t know about you, but Tom and I don’t have an extra $1660 in our December budget. Just because the average amount spent is estimated to be $830, it doesn’t mean you have to spend that much.
Today for What I Spent Wednesday, I’m giving you 5 of my favorite tips to avoid overspending during the holidays.
- Budget for Christmas early on in the year- Okay, it may be a little late for this one to work, but you can try to fit gift giving into your 2016 budget. For now, go ahead and spend less over the coming weeks so you can use the extra money towards gifts.
- Buy in advance- This is what I do. When I see something that is a good deal that would make a great present, I buy it up to 5 months in advance.
- Don’t do everything- Limit yourself to one fun Christmas craft or baking project, don’t try to do everything you see on Pinterest or you’ll stress yourself out and spend too much. I always make sure to do ornaments each year and make puppy chow.
- Stop buying presents for everyone- As a former teacher, I promise your child’s teacher will not be offended if you don’t buy a present. In fact, he or she may thank you. There are only so many Christmas mugs one can enjoy. Instead, bake up your favorite holiday treat or have your child make an ornament for them. It truly is the thought that counts here. Same thing goes for your mailman. If you barely have the money to afford gifts for family, don’t waste your money on gifts for service workers. And don’t feel guilty about it!
- Don’t buy presents just to have more under the tree- Seriously think about what you are buying. Make sure it is something that will truly bring joy to the recipient. If you are only buying something to make even numbers for jealous kids under the tree, try to make it useful (see my ideas here).
I could go on and on when it comes to this subject. I see so many of my friends and family stress over the holidays, and it’s mostly over money. There’s the pressure to buy good holiday food and entertain guests. Then there’s the pressure to buy the best presents. Don’t forget about the pressure to keep up with the Joneses and give the best Pinworthy treats to friends and teachers.
Here’s a secret: you’ll enjoy the holidays more if you relax and only do the stuff you love and can afford. I promise, it’s not worth getting into debt (or deeper debt) just to put gifts under the tree. The best present you can give yourself, and your family, is to take care of your own finances.[bctt tweet=”The best present you can give yourself, and your family, is to take care of your own finances.”]
At the risk of sounding corny, let’s not forget the “reason for the season”. I don’t talk about faith here, but I am a Christian. It’s my hope that I’ll raise children who remember that Christmas isn’t about presents. It’s about the birth of Jesus. It’s easy to get caught up in materialism and keeping up with the Joneses this time of year. But if you take a minute to slow down and remember why we have Christmas, your wallet with thank you. I’m pretty confident Jesus wouldn’t want you to go into debt either. I don’t speak for Jesus, but I have a good feeling about this one.
I’m trying hard to save up for the holidays. I’ve already bought a few presents, but we still have lots to buy, such as food for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because I’m thinking ahead, I spent very little this week.
Christmas market- $21
How do you plan for holiday spending? Do you budget?