Controlling the spending this holiday season

It’s been a tough year financially for many who have lost their job or experienced a reduction in their pay.  And as much as we want to spread the joy this holiday season through gift giving during this emotional year, there is more concern about overspending this year as compared to the past. Here are some tips to keep your holiday spending in check.

We previously discussed the importance of starting your holiday shopping early due to potential shortages for popular items and the increased pressure on shippers.  But as you put your shopping list together it’s important to really focus on your budget.  The natural tendency for many this holiday season will be to spend more to compensate for a really tough several months.  But with unemployment high and the future still uncertain, now may not be the time to “go big.”

One study found that 54% of respondents feel more financially stressed this year than past. So developing and sticking to a conservative budget is more important than ever.  Let’s face it, we’ve all had a tough year. We want to spread joy and cheer but here are a few tips that can help preserve your financial health:

  1. Reflect on your year – As you determine how much you want to spend, understand what’s driving that desire.  It’s been a tough year but are you making up for it by shopping for every person you know?

  2. Set a budget – Who do you want to buy for?  How much do you want to spend?  It’s the holiday season so spending is to be expected but create a budget and stick to it.  40% of people who plan to spend less are cutting costs by reducing the number of people they give gifts to.

  3. Creative gift giving – This may not be the year to give the “best gift ever.”  It’s been an emotionally tough year so more thoughtful, sentimental gifts will be even more special.  Consider having old family photos digitized and turned into photo albums.  

  4. Tap into your unused travel budget – Many of us didn’t take planned trips this year or won’t be traveling home for the holidays.  This becomes found money if you are looking for ways to add to your gift giving budget.

  5. Maybe not the year to be the hostess with the mostest – Gift giving gets expensive – fast!  And so does hosting large gatherings.  Food and alcohol can add up quickly.  With the current pandemic it’s an easy excuse to reduce the size of your gatherings…and spending.  There will always be next year.

One trick we use at the gatherist… take all those Amex points we’ve accrued all year and redeem for merchant gift cards that we use to shop for the holiday season and gifts.  What’s your trick?

Have a thought? Tell us!