A budget is not something most people would typically associate with the holidays. The holiday season is a time of cheer, but anxiety about money can sometimes put a damper on that holly jolly time of the year.
A growing gift list, expensive tastes, and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses in terms of decorations, presents, and even Christmas dinner can all have a negative impact on your finances.
According to the American Research Group, Americans will spend an average of $861 on the holidays. This amount is the highest since 2007 and is the first year the average amount spent on the holidays has risen to pre-recession levels.
Making sure that number doesn't inflate too much is the key, though. The holidays are a fun, memory-making time but January (and its bills) will come every year. Here are five ways to rein in spending and stay within the budget this year.
1) Have a budget.
Starting with a spending plan is a good way to stay on track. Know how much money there is to spend and then divide it among gift recipients, decorations, food, and other holiday expenses. And then stick to it.
2) Pare down the gifts.
While it can be tempting to give gifts to everyone in your life, perhaps there are ones that need to be dropped from the list solely for budget concerns. Think about buying one family gift instead of individual gifts.
Regift a present that is nice but something that can be lived with out. Or perhaps make something instead of buying it.
3) Add some DIY to the holidays.
When you're looking to save money but you don't want to cut the gift list, do-it-yourself gifts, decorations, and food can do the trick.
Baking a few dozen cookies and then distributing them to several friends or family members can substantially lower the per-person gift cost. For anyone who is creative and has some free time, DIY gifts can help reduce the financial burden of the holidays.
4) Make a list.
And check it twice. Lists are not just for Santa.