Because of inflation, many of us are shopping much earlier for the holidays this year. And that means it’s a great time to think about your budget, your plan, and your current situation. It is in that spirit that we share tips to get a handle on your holiday budget.
1. Using mindfulness to have more peace during your holiday shopping
When it comes to gifts, it’s not enough to simply know how much you plan to spend in total for the holiday season. You can also break that number down by person so that you’re mindful of your finances through the holidays.
If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, have some fun and get creative with gift-giving. Challenge yourself to give homemade gifts without spending any money. Handmade presents are extremely thoughtful such as; canned jams, bags of cookies, a picture frame, or hand-crafted ornament. If you’re not into cooking or canning, try buying low-cost items from your local market or second-hand shop.
No matter how you approach holiday spending, this year challenge yourself to shift your mindset by considering these questions: How much cash could I put aside each week to use on gifts? Could I put one item back on my gift list and forgo charging it to my credit card? Before I purchase anything off my list, do I know exactly how much I’m spending?
2. Rethink receiving gifts & saving for gifts
If you’re hoping to cut down on your seasonal spending, you can communicate that with those you love so that they may follow your lead. To help your friends and family stick to minimal holiday purchases, offer gift recommendations that avoid high spending. You could also ask your family to forgo material gifts this year and instead focus on experiences. This way the holiday will be focused around enjoying each other’s company, rather than on gifts.
If you’re concerned about how your friends and family will perceive your gift-giving approach, remember that giving your time and energy to support someone is almost always appreciated more than a gift that may end up cluttering their home. A hand-drawn gift card for items such as; cooking someone a meal, giving new parents a night out while you babysit or offering to clean someone’s house are gifts that your family and friends will love.
If you value giving gifts during this time of the year, it may be a good idea to create a unique savings account and contribute all year long. This way, you’ll feel a lot better about upping your holiday spending in November and December, if you’ve been preparing for it all year long.
You can also save money on holiday gifts by shopping in the off-season. Try getting a jumpstart on your holiday shopping in the summer or right after the holidays, when more items are on sale. Planning ahead will help you be mindful of your finances through the holidays.
3. Improve your spending habits & scope out purchases in advance
Get over credit card debt anxiety by giving yourself the gift of developing new-and-improved spending habits. Have you ever made a purchase only to frantically login to your bank account to check if you’ve overspent? You’re not alone, we’ve all been there.
In order to break spending habits that you may regret later, it’s important to consider how they make you feel. In the moment when you are standing in front of the item you want to buy, pause, breathe and imagine how you will feel about the purchase the next day? Try to envision your life after the purchase and ask yourself these questions: Will it really bring me the joy I am hoping it will? Will I have to make other sacrifices to get this? Will I feel stress about my money and meeting other obligations?
Try writing in a journal or meditating on the good in your life. For example, did you know that a salary of $32,000 puts you in the top 1% of earners in the world? If we can find joy in what we have, we might just realize how little we truly need to be happy.
Take a moment to jot down the last purchase you made with your money that ended up not working out so well. What led you to buy it? What were you valuing or needing? What did you hope it would bring—for instance, security? Fun? Ease? Ask yourself, what did you have to give up to get it? Peace of mind? Rest? Note how you felt when you made that decision and then think about how you feel today. Remember that spending money can be fun, as long as we are intentional about saving money to reach our goals and have a financial plan in place.
Adapted from an article distributed in partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness.