The National Retail Federation estimates the average shopper spends as much as $608 on gifts for family and friends during the holidays. That’s quite a bill to cover when you also have to worry about travel, entertaining, and all the other accoutrements of the season. It’s even more expensive when you’re celebrating the holidays with a family that’s larger than average. Tally it all together, and the holidays have the power to push your finances in the red. If you’re worried about your holiday budget, here are some tips to help you control your spending.
Suggest the Secret Santa method
If you’re celebrating with extended family and close-knit friends — all of whom are adults — the Secret Santa method is an affordable and simple way to exchange presents. Otherwise, buying a gift (or two) for each parent, sibling, and cousin can add up. Even spending just $30 on each person of a family that numbers 15 people can cost you nearly $500.
Secret Santa lets you focus on just one people, so you aren’t splitting your focus or budget on the whole gang. Not only will you be able to save cash this way, you’ll be able to better spoil this one individual without affecting your budget. Don’t let the organization of this system discourage you. If you aren’t up to managing the Secret Santa, there are apps that do it for you.
In a not dissimilar way to Secret Santa, a gift rotation is an organizational tip that will save your family serious cash. This technique doesn’t require you to purchase a gift for each extended family member. Instead, you focus on one stem of your family tree.
For example, if you have five siblings — each with their own partner and children — rather than buying gifts for each member of all five families, the rotation method has you choose just one family to focus on. Every sibling does the same, making sure each family has a unique family to buy for. The rotation comes in when you celebrate next year, so you’re never buying for the same family members twice in a row. This could potentially reduce your gifts from 20 to just 5.
Give homemade presents
If you’re talented with a whisk, hammer, sewing machine, or hot glue gun, consider making your gifts this year. Homemade gifts are an easy way to show the people in your life you care without paying department store prices. Just be careful when you hit up the craft supply store; it’s easy to overspend when you see all the fun things at Michael’s.
Prioritize your list
A common mistake made by the over-spender is treating everyone on your list the same. While you may feel as though you need to spend an equal amount of money on every friend and family to avoid being a Scrooge, the reality is few people know the exact price tag of their gift. When it comes to the holidays, it’s the thought that counts.
You should try prioritizing your gift list in tiers, allotting the majority of your budget to your children. Extended family comes next, followed by close friends. Last but not least are your neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers, who don’t need anything more than a token of your appreciation.
By far the most important way to prepare for the holidays is by planning ahead. A head start comes with two distinct advantages. One, it eases the pressure the holidays have on your day-to-day household budget. You can syphon a few twenties here and there when you won’t miss them and still have enough to spend by the time December rolls around. Two, it helps cut down some of the stress you might feel in the lead-up to the season. If you’ve spent the last six months making modest yet regular contributions to a savings fund, you’ll feel better about your abilities to celebrate without letting down your family.
Have a backup
Unexpected things can throw your saving plan out of whack. Things like a sudden furnace breakdown, a necessary trip to the clinic, or several last-minute gifts for your mail carrier and children’s teachers can add up and eat into your savings. If you don’t have enough left over to cover other necessary bills this Christmas, you can bridge the gap with a personal loan.
Though an obvious choice, it may not be easy to repay a traditional loan thanks to the pressures of the season. In which case, you should consider a company like MoneyKey that offers installment loans. One of the many MoneyKey is its repayment schedule. Instead of one lump sum, your repayment is broken up over several installments to lighten the burden these payments have on your household budget.
Staying on a small budget is a challenge when you have a big family, but it’s not impossible. You can find ways to keep your costs low this holiday by planning ahead and speaking truthfully about money with your family. Let them know why you want to make these changes, so they’re on board for Secret Santa, gift rotations, or homemade gifts this year.