Do you remember receiving handmade holiday gifts from your little ones in December? They brought home heartwarming gifts, made with their teacher just for you! You may recall making some at school for your own parents. It was the age of innocence, much different from today.
There are endless benefits to the modernization of society but does it ever feel like we’re losing our sense of simplicity? The holidays used to be about spending time and sharing memories with loved ones. Nowadays, the focus is more on gifts. Overspending during this magical season seems to be somewhat of an expectation.
Holiday shopping equals serious money. Many businesses depend on consumers to clean out their inventory. The hope is to meet sales targets with the help of excited shoppers looking for the perfect gift for a husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, or boss. Oftentimes, it can feel like the gift list is endless, adding pressure on your wallet and mind.
MasterCard SpendingPulse, which reports sales activities across the various market and payment types, reported last year that between November 1 and December 24 retail sales totaled close to 1 trillion dollars — the most robust numbers for retail in six years, great for our economy. However, stop to think about the effects all this spending may have on individual households. Staring at a ballooned credit card statement or zero balance in January can leave anyone with overwhelming guilt. It is important to keep yourself grounded during the exhilaration of the holiday. You have the power to control how much will be spent or the amount of debt incurred.
These few tips may help avoid some of the pitfalls of overspending:
Set Yourself a Budget Then Stick To It! Start the project by setting boundaries for yourself. We say we’ll only spend a certain amount. The promise tends to go out the window most times unless extremely disciplined. The joy of trimming trees then sitting down with a glass of wine to shop online can be fun but leaves a sting when all is said and done. Before you know it, you are stretching your credit line to a place that will take years to come back from, plus not worth the trouble. Put aside an amount before the season kicks into gear. Write a list of people you genuinely want to get gifts for and write down the purchase being considered. As you go down your list, one by one, shop around for the best bargains. Organize, research, then execute your shopping plan; when you have a plan, it is less likely to go off the deep end. Going into holiday shopping without an idea of what to get leads to excessive or unnecessary spending. The key is to accept your financial reach and buy within means. My list gets shorter as I get older. Gift giving is no longer an obligation. I get presents out of sheer desire to show appreciation.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Online Promotion Codes Work. The beauty of holiday shopping is all the sales, as long as you don’t shop for the sake of grabbing every SALE. Retailers are competing for your wallet, so you don’t have to buy the first thing you see in the window or on your screen. Place item(s) in cart and wait patiently. Plenty of things can be found at lower prices. Nothing wrong with waiting for a competitive price to purchase the perfect gift. Strategizing takes time and thought, however, it can be a valuable way to eliminate the stress that comes from burning through savings or credit limit.
Cash is Still King. This is true whether you’re using out of pocket cash or debit cards. You are less inclined to overspend when money is directly coming out of your savings or checking account. Mentally, most of us set a threshold number to keep in the account, in case of a rainy day. If we see our money decrease, we may set the brakes faster on spending.
There are various ways to stay in line with spending during the holidays. One of the major reasons we get ourselves into debt is the failure to set limits. While the exchange of gifts is a wonderful and fun tradition, it takes away from the true meaning of the holidays. It is a time to pause and look around at the blessings. The love and time of family and friends are by far, the biggest gift we can receive. Enjoy the moments each breath gives you, focusing on the little things. Happy holidays!