As the song says, Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But as wonderful as it is, the holiday season can often leave your post-Christmas finances in disarray. Fortunately, with a little planning and preparation, you can take the stress out of shopping and enjoy celebrating Christmas with your loved ones.
Determine how much you can spend.
Most importantly, set a budget for Christmas spending—not just for gifts, but for food, travel, charitable offerings, and holiday events.
Don’t feel obligated to buy for everyone.
Families and friendship circles grow. Discuss drawing names or doing a gift exchange with friends and family, instead of buying individual gifts for every person. Chances are you’re not the only one trying to stick to a budget.
Make a list—and check it twice.
Planning your shopping out in advance can make you less likely to fall victim to impulse purchases. Make a list of gift recipients, set a spending limit for each, and determine what you’d like to buy, and—most importantly—stick to that list.
Use cash, not credit.
Track your cash by having envelopes for each recipient to help you stay on budget, instead of using credit cards where spending can sometimes get out of hand, leaving you with significant debt to pay off after the holiday. If you do use credit cards, be sure to pay them off as soon as possible.
Keep an eye out for the best deals.
Don’t buy in a rush. Comparing prices can save you more than money—knowing you’re getting the best possible deal and keeping to your Christmas budget can reduce some of the stress of holiday shopping.
Use online shopping to your advantage.
When shopping online, be sure to include shipping costs when comparing prices. Many stores also have free shipping offers and discount codes that you can use at checkout.
Think of creative (and inexpensive) gift ideas.
Consider inexpensive gifts you can make at home. Bake something tasty to give to friends and family or create a personalized gift using craft supplies you already have. Save on gift wrap by using brown paper and string. Then you can use any remaining paper for wrapping other gifts throughout the year.
Plan ahead for next year.
Start saving for Christmas in January. Make gift spending a line item in your monthly budget for next year. Just $20 saved each week adds up to over $1,000 in a year. Saving for the holidays over the course of the year can reduce the stress of Christmastime shopping, gives you the flexibility to be generous to those less fortunate, and allows you to slow down and enjoy all that makes the season special.
Christmas is coming soon, and it can easily be the most expensive time of the year. Start preparing today to rid yourself of the financial frustrations that often come with the season. From all of us at AGFinancial, we’d like to wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons!
Click here to learn about AGFinancial, and how you can fund your Christmas spending while helping to grow churches.
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