EVERYDAY HOME  |  11.27.17  |  by Terra Wellington

Photo: Flickr / Jennifer C.

Do you feel the pressure to pile on the gifts this year?  According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 46 percent of us feel pressured to spend more than we can afford during the holidays, up from 39 percent in 2014.  Whew!  If you’re feeling stressed about the holidays, you’re not alone.  And the ability to avoid holiday overspending is a significant way for you to reduce that stress.  Who wants a big credit card bill in January that takes a year (or more!) to pay off?  No one.  So we’ve got some important tips for you to keep your bank balance in check and still have a wonderful holiday.

Read on for easy ways to avoid holiday overspending  

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Make a Plan

When you get in a store or mall and are just there to buy gifts without a plan, you’re doomed to reactive shopping.  There’s a lot of fun and pretty things on display this time of year, and if you don’t have a list of what you’re after then it’s far too easy to be enticed to go over budget.  It’s best to set limits on your spending — either with an exact list of what you want to buy and/or with a set budget that you’re not going over.  Says a recent T. Rowe Price survey —

62% of parents agree with the statement, “I spent more for my kids over the holidays than I should have.”

Shop Sales

Once you know what gifts you want to get, shop sales.  All those junk mail flyers become golden — they are advertising sales!  Another option is to go online and shop the lowest price.

Use Dollar Stores

There’s plenty of cheap wrapping paper, cards, tape, and ribbon for cheap at the dollar store.  Stocking stuffers are super cheap there too.  For simple gifts to teachers and kids friends, the dollar store is perfect for putting together something cute but inexpensive.  Take advantage of these discount stores when you can.

Don’t Procrastinate

Says SunTrust Banks — “Many consumers leave many purchases and gift-buying to the last minute. When you are rushed, you will buy almost anything, without paying attention to your budget.”  A lot of sales are already in play before Thanksgiving, so you can easily start your shopping early.  An effective tip is to set a date of when you want to be done with your holiday gift shopping, maybe December 5?  And this keeps you away from the holiday madness after than date, and home with your family.

Factor in Entertainment

Did you look at only the gifts but forgot to factor in movies and going out to eat during the Christmas school break?  Look at it all.  Some families cut down on the gift budget and increase the entertainment budget — after all, it’s the time spent together that in the end matters most.

Avoid Using the Credit Card

If you can’t afford it, then don’t buy it.  What kind of Christmas would you have if you couldn’t put it on a credit card?  Would you be spending more time with your kids to make up for the gifts?  Would you think more about the usefulness and meaning of each gift you did give?

Have Fun with Coupon Books

What about giving gifts of time, like a coupon book.  Sticking to a budget and avoid the credit card spawns a lot of creativity and family bonding.

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