The holiday season is a time for sharing, celebration and gratitude. For many, however, the holidays represent something altogether different: a time of financial stress. This time of year is often filled with pressure to buy expensive gifts and to spend money on costs associated with social gatherings.
By planning ahead, you can avoid the post-holiday financial hangover. U.S. News & World Report shares 6 tips on combating holiday financial stress:
- Check your credit score before splurging on your loved onesWhile this seems like an unlikely place to begin your holiday shopping, it is found that shoppers who are motivated to maintain or improve their credit score are less likely to charge purchases or open new credit lines while holiday shopping. Understand your financial health before racking up credit on gifts.
- Set a per-person shopping budgetCreate an overall holiday spending budget before you begin shopping for gifts. From your total holiday spending budget, break that number down even more to have a per-person budget. The more organized and detailed your budget is, the less likely you will overspend. Once you’ve hit that dollar amount, stop shopping for that person.
- Scope out purchases in advanceAvoid impulse buys that may be out of your budget by browsing different items before purchasing the actual gift. If you are an online shopper, use your favorite store’s website shopping cart to save potential gift options without checking out. That way, your potential gifts are saved in your online basket and you can step away to think about it. As an added bonus, some retailers will email coupons to those who have left a full cart on their site, making a future purchase less expensive.
- Pick one day to go shopping with a listComplete a shopping list and try to accomplish your holiday shopping all in one day. Don’t venture out without a list of specific items to buy for each recipient. Plan your shopping trip ahead of time, including what stores you plan to shop at and what you are going to purchase from there. You will save on gas driving to your shopping destinations, and will better stick to your determined budget.
- Have a plan for credit usageIs your holiday spending budget bigger than the money you currently have access to? If you have budgeted spending $500 on the holidays, and are putting away $100 a week towards your holiday budget, you might not have the physical cash to spend till the end of December. In that case, look into credit cards, personal loans or other lines of credit. Be cautious to not take on more debt than you can afford to repay in a reasonable amount of time.
- Forgo store-bought giftsOne of the best ways to avoid being financially stressed during the holidays is to skip expensive store-bought gifts altogether. It’s the thought that counts! Homemade gifts are not only easier on your wallet, they are usually more heartfelt and well received.
Financial wellness is crucial for a stress-free holiday season. When you are less worried about your wallet, you can enjoy the time spent with loved ones. If financial stress is weighing on you, access your EAP benefit for free financial consultations. Access your EAP Employee benefit online here.