I love the holiday season because it’s a great time to relax and spend time with my family. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy giving and receiving gifts. On the flip side, the weeks following Thanksgiving can get pretty hectic and stressful if you’re worried about money.
Last year, Americans spent about $1,000 on Christmas while others spent much more. It’s common to overspend during this time of year after feeling pressured to buy certain things and get into debt. If you waste all your time worrying about how you’re going to pay for gifts and other holiday expenses this year, you may miss out on what’s most important.
If you want to avoid holiday stress altogether this year, here are a few things you can do.
Create a Holiday Spending Plan
I’ve had a stress-free Christmas the last few years and it’s thanks in large part to laying out a spending plan early on. Your spending plan is basically your holiday budget and should include all the expenses you expect to have and a specified amount you’d like to spend on Christmas gifts for loved ones.
The main reason why so many people get overwhelmed and overspend during the holidays is because they haven’t set a specific and realistic expectation for their money.
If you know you only want to spend $500 for the holiday season, you can create spending plan around that amount to help you stick to your goal.
Start Saving Up Now
If you haven’t already, start saving up for the holidays now. Some people set aside a little money all year round and it’s much easier on their wallet in November and December because they already have a large sum of cash set aside.
I personally start saving in July and I like to do a savings ladder. I start out setting aside a small amount like $25 for the month, then I increase it to $50, then $100 and $200. By the time December hits, I usually have all the money I need for holiday spending.
Starting the savings process early will help you feel more prepared so you won’t have to worry about coming up with $600 or even $1,000 on a whim.
Buy All Your Gifts Before December
If you’re not a big fan of holiday shopping, you may want to buy all your Christma s gifts before December. I know a lot of people who do this because they’d rather do other things to enjoy the holiday season instead of spending all their time chasing sales, dealing with crowded stores, and wrapping gifts.
You may want to shop for gifts all year round or look for sales and deals during Black Friday or Cyber Week. Or, you could also open a layaway early so all your shopping is done then make payments on the final total until Christmas.
I personally like to have the bulk of my shopping completed by December 1. That way, I can spend my spare time watching Christmas movies at home, volunteering for my son’s holiday party at school, going sledding, attending holiday events, etc.
Don’t feel like you have to wait until the last minute to go shopping in order to take advantage of the best sales. There are great sales going on all throughout the year and the longer you wait, the more stressful the process becomes.
Start Earning Extra Money
Most of us know that we’re naturally going to spend more money toward the end of the year due to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all occurring back to back. To provide yourself with some financial relief, considering bumping up your income for a few months so you can cover all your holiday expenses with ease.
You can get a part-time job, sell some of your old items, cash in rewards from Swagbucks, pick up over time hours, or establish a flexible side hustle. You can check out these 10 ways to earn extra money before Christmas for inspiration.
This year, I’m working at the after-school program at my son’s school a few days a week and transferring some of my paychecks directly to my holiday savings account.
Learn to Say No
One of the best things you can do to eliminate financial stress and worry this holiday season and to get more comfortable with telling people no. You’ll encounter tons of offers and temptations over these next few weeks and you’ll have to say no to some things that don’t align with your values and goals.
You could have to say no to that expensive toy or electronic item your child wants or to that fancy holiday party you never really liked going to. Be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do and set realistic expectations with everyone beforehand.
Give Your Presence Instead of Presents
If you find yourself worrying about money and gifts every holiday season, take a step back and put more effort toward spending time with your loved ones and lending a helping hand. My husband and I won’t be able to exchange gifts with family members this year because we’re focused on putting as much money as we can toward buying a home next year.
However, we still want to attend get-togethers that don’t revolve around gift exchanges. You can do something as simple as inviting friends over to watch movies, play games, and eat, go to a family member’s house to help them with something, or visit a grandparent. Those experiences will be more valuable than buying someone a thoughtless gift.
How are you planning on eliminating stress and worry over money this holiday season?