How to make sure your cash lasts through the holidays
The season of giving is already here. With it comes charitable donations and purchasing gifts for family and friends. At the same time, you are likely working to balance your personal holiday budget. This task can become a struggle if your financial situation isn’t currently as strong as you would prefer. It can also be difficult if you’ve recently been blind-sided by unexpected expenses. Today, we’ve compiled a few recommendations for navigating this season with a financially responsible plan. This can help you minimize debt and manage your budget.
Keep it realistic
Start by creating a realistic budget for your holiday spending. According to a Gallup Poll, Americans expect to spend about $942 on holiday gifts this year. An astonishing amount (37%) said they would spend $1000 or more. If you don’t have a savings set aside, those numbers may sound a little high or just plain crazy!
Take a deep breath and decide on an amount you are comfortable with spending. Check that it fits well within your personal financial situation at this time. Keep in mind that you may incur expenses beyond just gifts and donations. When it comes to gifts, you may need to factor in the costs of gift-wrapping accessories and the cost of shipping. Holiday activities, travel, groceries for special dinners, and holiday décor, all come at a cost, too.
Prioritize expenses and adjust expectations
Set guidelines for yourself about how much you plan to spend on gifts for family members and friends. Things can get out of control very quickly if you just start shopping without any particular plan in place. Prioritize expenses that you feel are non-negotiable, first. Once you’ve done that, you can then see what is left in the budget for extras or special treats. We recommend making an initial shopping list of the items you feel that you need to get. Keep it within your budget. You can always make a second shopping list of the other extras, or stocking stuffers, that you want to get if you have money left to spend.
If you are a parent, you may want to buy your child at least one special gift. To you, it may feel as though it is an absolute must to ensure that they have a happy holiday. If your child asks for a video game, phone, or other pricey item, you may need to evaluate their wish list. Decide what your family can actually afford. Splurges are understandable, but too much splurging can negatively impact your holiday season. The financial stress might take some of the joy out of the gift. In addition, splurging could also negatively affect your budget for months to come.
Even after careful consideration and planning, your overall holiday budget may still be left unbalanced. If this is the case, other cost-cutting measures may be a good idea. Consider agreeing on a gift price limit with your friends and family. If a price limit doesn’t suit you or them, consider drawing names within your friend group or extended family. You can use funds for one special gift, rather than buying everyone a small gift. This way, there is more of a chance that everyone will receive a gift that they will appreciate. Some families find it more financially feasible to buy gifts for children only. They may simply exchange baked goods, cards, homemade gifts, or gag gifts with older relatives. Alternatively, they may try donating to favorite charities of family members who don’t want gifts. Giving to a cause they care about is a lovely and thoughtful way of showing them you truly care.
Don’t be afraid to start new traditions that also happen to be economical. Spending time with family, putting up holiday decor while listening to festive music, and having homemade snacks can be fun and affordable. Consider taking friends or family on a night drive to view holiday light displays. You could all enjoy some warm coffee or hot cocoa while looking at the holiday lights. It is a great way to spend time with loved ones without spending much cash. If you are really in the spirit of giving, but unable to donate money, consider volunteering. It is a great way to help out within your community.
After you have scaled back spending in the areas you feel comfortable, you still have another option: create new income! The most sure-fire way to ensure more funds is to take on an extra job. Retail positions are popular, but there are many other options. DoorDash, Lyft, or Uber may fit your lifestyle and schedule perfectly. At this time of the year, there is often a high demand for delivery services that send out food, furniture, and electronics.
If you’re uninterested in making such a large commitment to work, you could offer your friends and neighbors “handyman” type services, instead. You could offer to assemble gifts, help get their homes ready for holiday guests, or assist with decorating or decoration removal. Rather than spending hours working for a company every week, you may only have to work for an hour or two here and there. If an extra job doesn’t appeal to you, consider taking a little time to sell your unwanted items for extra cash.
Put people first
Financial expert, Suze Orman, believes that you should always put people first, then money, then things. It seems so simple, but life comes at us quickly sometimes and we find ourselves prioritizing the wrong things. Remember that debt doesn’t provide happiness, so don’t overextend your finances trying to provide a perfect holiday. Perfection doesn’t exist. Instead, focus on spending quality time with friends and family when you can and enjoy the holiday season without breaking your budget.
At Net Pay Advance, we know that sometimes the happiest time of the year can also be the most stressful season. Hopefully this article has helped you find at least a few ways to save money, stay within your budget, and make your cash last through the season. If ultimately you do find that you need a little bit more cash for unexpected expenses this holiday, don’t let it ruin your fun. You can easily apply for funds on our website. If you are approved before 5:30 PM PT, your money will be deposited directly into your bank account on the morning of the next business day.
Happy holidays and merry Christmas from Net Pay Advance!