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The holidays can bring on a lot of stress, but these tips can help you to actually enjoy the season.
It’s that time of year again when stress hits because of how much money you do or don’t have. You know what is coming up in December: The never-ending gift giving and party-going. It is the most expensive time of year that, quite frankly, will put some of us in debt way into 2018.
There are things you can do to prevent this cycle, but it will take guts and planning. Think about it: What can you do to plan for the holidays so that you can keep your head above water and actually enjoy the season?
1. Create a budget and stick to it. No impulse shopping.
2. Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend. Explain to your kids about how money works.
3. Stay away from layaway. A lot of people walk away from layaway without ever claiming their purchases.
4. Do not put things on credit cards when you know you can’t afford it. The interest will eat you alive.
5. Don’t spend money in restaurants and bars. It gets pretty pricey out there.
6. Make homemade cards and gifts. These are the things people keep for a lifetime.
7. Cook instead of buying, but pay attention to what the cost of the ingredients are. Watch where you shop as prices are different at various stores.
8. Make a gift out of family recipes. They are priceless and need to be passed on from generation to generation.
9. Do not get into fights over money with your loved ones. It is so easy to argue. Is that how you want to spend your holiday - mad at a loved one?
10. Talk to your family about cutting back on all the spending. You may be surprised that others in the family feel the same way.
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11. Don’t buy decorations. Use what you already have.
12. Call your single friends on the holiday. Invite them over and let them know you care about them.
13. Borrow holiday movies from the library instead of going to the theater. Free is good!
14. Coordinate a family treasure hunt, snowball fight or football game. Get some exercise together as a family.
15. Email letters. It doesn’t cost anything.
16. Forget sending holiday cards. The postage can kill you.
17. Don't pay large shipping fees to get presents delivered by Christmas. Does it really matter if it is a day late?
18. See if you can work a side job to have extra money that will also keep you out of the stores. Then, keep your goal in mind and don’t blow it.
19. Volunteer and do something for those less fortunate. This will make you feel good.
20. In lieu of a gift, have your family buy a gift for someone in need. Teach the spirit of the holiday to your kids.
21. Have a Secret Santa for your extended family instead of having to buy every member of your family a gift. A little surprise and excitement is what is really needed.
22. Give coupons to volunteer to babysit or shovel a driveway. This is being thoughtful.
23. Go caroling with family and friends. It will make you feel like you are a part of a community.
24. Don’t go shopping on Thanksgiving or the day after. You aren’t going to miss anything but chaos. Sleep in and enjoy time with your family.
25. And finally, appreciate what you have. Things don’t make people happy in the long run. Your health and loved ones are what really matter.
I know that some of you will think that I am a grinch and am being ridiculous, but the amount of debt that people incur around this time of year is truly staggering. To spend beyond our means will set us back financially for 2018. I’m not being a grinch; I’m just being someone who wants you to think about your finances as you enjoy this wonderful time of year.