The Most Wonderful Time of Year – On a Budget

The onset of Thanksgiving through the New Year’s holiday is often referred to as “the most wonderful time of the year.” During this time of year, many people celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Lights and cheerful decorations take over public and private spaces. The spirit of generosity reaches its annual peak.

For many though this time of year comes with great anxiety and uncertainty surrounding finances as they balance the usual bills and financial obligations and seasonal celebrations and gift giving. This can be true for families at all income levels. So how do you survive the holidays with everyone happy and your budget still intact? First and foremost, establish a budget. Set an amount your household plans to spend on the holidays and stick to it. Once you’ve spent that amount, that’s it. You’re done spending for the holidays. While this is hard, there are ways to stick to a budget.

Just say ‘No’

Saying no is a valuable tool during the holiday season. Don’t be afraid to say no to family, friends or coworkers. Practice saying no.  If you an impromptu holiday happy hour at work doesn’t fit into your budget, say no. If you can’t afford to buy everything on your children’s wish lists, say no to items.

Seek Help

Christmas isn’t about receiving. Or at least that’s what we’re told. But for parents, grandparents and other caregivers, it is hard to see children close to them go without during this season of generosity and giving. If you find yourself in a situation where you fear you won’t be able to provide gifts for your children, seek out help through schools, local businesses and state and local agencies. You may be surprised at the efforts all kinds of organizations put in to bring smiles to young faces this time of year.

Next year, plan early

This year was a blur, the holidays came quick. Ideally, you should start planning finances for the holidays in September. If you were unable to get a jumpstart this year, prepare to plan early in 2020. Planning and budgeting will allow you to analyze your current financial situation more closely and fit your holiday budget into the monthly budget you may already be adhering to. Also, be sure to set your holiday budget according to YOUR finances. While it is tempting to try to keep up with family members and friends when it comes to holiday-giving, you know your financial situation and should plan according to it.