The holidays are all about memories — and, let’s face it: Gifts. It’s natural to want to shower your loved ones with presents at this time of year, especially when your kids are small. All too easily, however, the spending can get out of control — especially if you’re already struggling financially.
How can you keep your holiday expenses down? Here are some tips:
- Figure out a reasonable budget. You know your money situation the best, so decide exactly how much of your income you can spare for gifts and stick to it.
- Set the holiday money aside in cash. This will force you to keep your budget in mind as you shop, and prevent you from forgetting about a bunch of little purchases.
- Decline to be involved in all the extra hoopla. Tell your extended relatives, co-workers and friends that you can’t participate in gift exchanges this year. If you really feel bad about it, make cookies and pass them out along with handmade cards, instead.
- Stay out of the stores. It’s easy to give into temptations when you see all of the holiday sales out there. If you shop online, you can limit your searches to exactly what you intend to buy and more easily avoid the lure of all those extra goodies.
- Be very selective. Your kids may have wish lists that are a mile long, but that doesn’t mean they need everything that’s on them. Narrow in on exactly what your kids want the most — and will likely enjoy the longest — and buy only those items.
- Find alternative ways to celebrate. Focus on spending time with your family, not gifts. As much as you can, orient the holiday around family meals, baking treats, hanging decorations and watching movies.
By all means, you want to avoid running up your credit cards, taking cash advances or getting short-term loans to pay for the holidays. If you’re in a situation where you already have more bills than money, that will only make things worse. In fact, if that’s where you’re at, it may be time to consider filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can give you the fresh start your family really needs.