I love the fall – the changing colors of the leaves and the beginning of the holiday season. For many, this gives us time to spend with family, but for a lot of us, the holidays create a black hole in our wallets. I am sure that it comes as no surprise that Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the most expensive holidays of the year, but with some planning, these holidays do not have to wipe out your accounts:
- Review your spending to determine a realistic budget. Before you get caught up in the non-stop “Black Friday” sales that seems to start right after Halloween season, take some time and realistically assess your budget to come up with a total dollar amount you can spend on family gifts. Consider using your bank’s software or websites like, Mint.com to help you create a budget.
- Come up with a game plan for who will and who will not get gifts. I have a HUGE family: 5 brothers and sisters and close to 20 aunts and uncles between both my parents. (Don’t get me started on first cousins, much less second and even third cousins.)
I limit gifts to immediate family members, and I give either a family photo or a photo of the kids in an inexpensive frame for family gifts. Decide who will get gifts and come up with a game plan for other family members. Remember, gifts can be more than something you purchase- yummy desserts or an offer to babysit or do another needed service for a family member are great gifts.
- Start shopping now for great gifts in inexpensive stores. The best time to hunt for gifts in inexpensive stores is now. Also, start searching consignment shops, particularly for kid’s gifts. A few years ago, we got an expensive all wooden dollhouse filled with wooden furniture and dolls for under $25 at a local consignment shop. Start slowly going to local stores to find some great deals.
The holidays can be financially stressful. However, they do not have to be if you take the time to plan ahead. Start planning now so you can save later.