With thanksgiving not long gone, and Christmas less than three weeks away, it would be really easy to let our debts get out of control, or even to think that it’s ok to decrease repayments. It can be tempting to even skip a payment in order to splurge on a holiday, on presents or even just expensive food and wine to celebrate. The problem with doing this if you do have debt, is that you will be compromising all the hard work you’ve put in to cutting back what you owe and saving. For this reason it is important to plan your Christmas spending to make sure that the added expenses stay within your budget.
As anyone can see from this previous post, when you’re renovating a house, paying off a car, student loans and a mortgage, there isn’t necessarily a lot left over for extra turkey and huge expensive presents. You may be planning to put some of your holiday spending on your credit card, but you don’t need to rely on it for more than the bare minimum if you’re sensible. That goes double if you don’t have a savings fund you can dip into, which you won’t if you’re prioritising repaying your debts (as pretty much everyone should be). It’s important not to stress or panic though. There are ways to get through the crazy holiday season with your finances intact, and here we cover just two which will take you a long way to a financially healthy New Year.
DIY – it means more and costs less
For a sustainable holiday season, take the DIY approach wherever possible. This is your chance to commit to making at least some of your Christmas gifts and possibly decorations yourself. Do what you can this year and think about doing even more yourself for next year.
It makes sense to use your own talents, skills and abilities to create something for friends and family, or even co-workers. It honestly shouldn’t take much more time than you would spend shopping for gifts anyway, plus buying materials in bulk can work out really cheap. Supplies such as beautiful gift bags, wrapping paper, ribbons etc can also be kept and reused. Personalised homemade gifts and treats are always meaningful, and by creating something for someone else you can get to know them better.
Re-use what you can, it’s getting more and more popular!
Even if you don’t make individual presents, or you’re really not a crafty person who wants to attempt something like handmade jewellery or clothes, something as simple as Christmas cards made yourself or baking days where the whole family gets involved in making sweet treats for friends and co-workers will entertain everyone for a day. At the end you’ll also have a perfectly acceptable surprise gift for those you can’t afford to spend lots on.
Something else, which can be considered even MORE sustainable, is re-gifting where appropriate. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has just published a great piece about the psychology of re-gifting, and it turns out that more and more people believe it’s ok – and especially over the holiday giving period. 79% of people who participated in a range of experiments and surveys said it was ok at this time of year in fact! So if you were given a second crock pot, a sweater that didn’t fit you but would fit someone else, or something you really won’t use don’t be shy and don’t let it sit there and gather dust. Find someone who can make some use out of it and package it up and hand it off.
Apart from that, keep in mind these old chestnuts and you’ll be extra prepared and maybe even come out ahead this holiday season. If you don’t have time to implement all these ideas this year, start thinking about how you can do them for next year.
1) Make a list of who you MUST buy for and stick to it. For everyone else there’s ecards!
2) Set a budget for each present. If you must, explain that you’re sticking to a strict plan and that nobody is being held up above anyone else in the gift giving stakes.
3) See what you can do to bring in extra cash. House-sitting, renting out a room, selling your own treats or gifts could all bring in a few dollars for the month or so.
This post was supplied by credit card comparison website creditcard.com.au