Avoid Overspending During the Holidays

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With Memorial Day wrapped up, Americans are getting ready to head back to work.  For many, the next day to look forward to is Independence Day, which happens to also fall on a Monday this year.  A few years ago, when I was working the nine-to-five lifestyle, I used to mark my calendar with all of the holiday day’s off.  I realized after a few years that these days not only represented time off, but also a budgeting nightmare.

When you think about all of the holiday’s we celebrate, they all have one thing in common and that’s spending money.  Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Independence Day, Valentines Day or a litany of other holidays, the urge to spend is present.  Think about it … between gifts, barbecues and nights out, hundreds if not thousands of dollars is spent on items you probably never budgeted for.   Here are a few spending tips to make sure that you’re not on the hook for hundreds of dollars worth of expenses every time a holiday rolls around.

Plan Ahead

If you wait until the last minute to plan a holiday party or budget for a Valentines Day dinner, the debt you didn’t expect can quickly turn into late payments and over limit fees on credit cards and other types of revolving debt.  Planning ahead can allow you to see just how much you can afford to spend and the urge to wow your friends of loved one won’t be as great.  By sitting down and spending some time looking at the upcoming holidays, you might be able to find a few inexpensive (or even free) ways to spend your time off.

When Your Hosting, Ask For Help

I’ll be the first to admit that when I have friends and family come over, even for small occasions, I like to go the extra mile.  Whether that means spending a little more money in decorating the place or buying more food and drink for everyone to have, I splurge.  It’s a terrible habit that I’m working on and if you find yourself in the same situation, it’s time to ask for help.  This can be done in a couple of ways:

  • Have guests bring items.  The more people you invite, the less you’ll have to do on your own but be careful.   Planning this way can lead to disaster if guests with important items don’t show up.  Make sure you are still in charge of the main items being served, but your guests take care of everything else.
  • Charge your guests a cover.  I know this one sounds awkward and in poor taste, especially if you offered to host, but having people chip in a couple of bucks shouldn’t turn friends and family the wrong way.  If everyone contributed $5 for the entire day, you’ll be able to defray some of the costs.

Romance Can Be Cheap

Getting away from the group gatherings on this one, spending time with a loved one doesn’t have to break the bank.  Spending time to prepare a picnic, a home cooked meal and a well written card makes all the difference.  Yes, spending a few hundreds dollars to have a plane sky-write a message will win you points but the same reaction can be achieved with a song, craft or a long day together.  Remember that if you spend a lot of money once, it may be expected of you in the future.

Published or Updated: May 30, 2011

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