We all have that one friend who is so excited about Christmas that the music starts playing right after Halloween, colorful wreaths and blinking lights are hung everywhere with glee, and one Christmas tree—much less two—is certainly not enough. Black Friday is embraced with middle-of-the-night shopping and gifts abound right on schedule. For a rare few, the Yuletide season just doesn’t last long enough; for the vast majority of us, however, we breathe a sigh of relief to still have just a small portion of our wallets and bank accounts left intact by the time it is all over. If you plan accordingly however, the holidays do not have to be a nightmare. You can tighten those reins and avoid the holiday financial hangover using all of or a combination of these simple methods:
- Announce to the whole family that while this year is going to be fun and full of celebration, a budget is necessary. This doesn’t mean the end of the world, it just means that one, you are being a good role model in terms of managing the family finances, and two, there will be more structure rather than willy-nilly online spending and euphoric trips to the mall with the credit card. Avoid the spend now and worry later holiday mode that is often so prevalent.
- Plan to use cash instead of credit cards. This is where financial planning and restraint will come into play. If you can put away a bit of cash out of several paychecks before Christmas and lock the credit cards away, you’ll be feeling a lot better in early January. While there might be a couple of big items you will need your card for to purchase online, if you have a plan to pay them off quickly, you’ll be much more successful in your holiday spending.
- Say no! Expect all the typical holiday pressure to hit you head-on, as it does every year. From outside pressures, to kids with very long Christmas lists, parties, too many gift-giving extravaganzas, and that temptation to spoil everyone, it’s best if you keep an eye on your financial health and say no to the excess—even rehearsing ahead of time if necessary.
- Talk to the other adults in your family about a gift exchange. This can save untold amounts of money during the holiday season and will help you organize much better too. And in some cases as everyone is feeling the economic pressure associated with shopping, you may decide not to do any gifts for the adults, and just focus on the kids. That might sound a bit bleak, but again, think of the peace of mind you will have on December 26th.
- Keep in mind that there is so much more to the holiday season than just ‘stuff.’ Enjoy free activities around town with the kids, spend an evening out looking at all the beautiful light displays, get together with family and friends, and as we so often hear but forget to do: enjoy the true meaning of the holiday.
As the holidays approach, we know it can be a stressful time. If you are concerned about debt collectors, credit card lawsuits, impending bankruptcy, or other related topics, contact us at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC so that one of our experienced attorneys can go over your questions and then discuss options. We are here to help!