The holidays are upon us, but that doesn't mean that New Year's debt should follow. Here are five ways to make sure that the season is jolly and bright without breaking the bank.
5. Give Homemade Gifts Instead
Why buy gifts at all this year? Many consumers can put their talents to use by baking goodies that are vastly superior to those available at a bakery. Others can make their own holiday cards, paint exquisite artwork or handcraft beautiful jewelry. The options are nearly endless for consumers who are willing to take the time to make something from scratch. With the abundant amount of instructional videos and blog posts online, it's easier than ever to come up with great gift ideas!
Homemade gifts are also cheaper and carry more meaning than those that can be purchased at retail. Just don't knit too many sweaters -- many are given but few are worn past the holidays.
4. Shop Smarter
While it might be tempting to make every gift imaginable, the reality is that not all gifts can be crafted in-house. Some of them (such as toys and electronics) can only be purchased.
But instead of buying them every cool gadget released this fall, be a smart (if not selective) gift giver. Make a chart of recipients and list the various items he or she may want to receive. Narrow those items by deciding how much should be spent on each individual.
When it comes time to actually shop, it will be much easier to pick up the necessary gifts without going over budget.
3. Don't Be Tempted By Every Credit Card Offer
It's okay to have some store credit cards, but that doesn't mean consumers should sign up for every card they see. The holidays make it tempting to acquire as many as possible, especially when bonus discounts are offered to those who sign up at the register.
2. Share The Burden
Many families take turns hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners -- others stick to one house (usually grandma's) and bring an appetizer or dessert.
This strategy works for some, but if money is tight, switch to a potluck-style gathering where everyone brings an equal number of desserts or entrees, regardless of the host. In doing so, the cost of food will be spread evenly across each participant, providing more money for bills -- and gifts.
1. Forgo Gifts Entirely
This is something that no Santa-at-heart wants to consider: a Christmas without gifts! But if money is tight, that might be the best option.
Consumers should start by evaluating their budget. If there is room for gifts, parents should shop for their kids first. Adult family members will understand if the budget does not extend to them.
Before making any drastic decisions, however, consumers should explain the situation with their family and friends. They will understand if money is an issue and appreciate that they were told in advance.