One of the most important things to remember as we head into the festive season is that buying gifts during the holidays is about spreading cheer, not creating a debt load that you’ll be paying off for the next year. Cutting down on your typical holiday spending might seem impossible, but there are ways to cut back so that you can enjoy the holidays without worrying about the financial aftermath in January.
- Volunteer together. Instead of hosting a party, invite your friends and family members to help you make a difference in your community by working on a charitable project together. Spending time doing good for others is a wonderful way to honor the spirit of the season. For Foresters Financial™ members, Community Volunteer grants and Foresters Care™ grants offer a hands-on way to make a positive impact right in their own communities. Members can visit MyForesters.com to find out more about these community grants that they can use to put together holiday care packages for those in need, as well as many other ways to volunteer with Foresters.
- Set a budget. If you don’t already have a household budget, take time to set one up. Once you know exactly how much money you have coming in and going out, you’ll be able to figure out what you can realistically spend on holiday gifts, parties, and other seasonal obligations. This might help you decide if it’s time to cut back on the number of people you give gifts to, or cut down on the amount you spend per person. Apps like Santa’s Bag can help you keep track of what you spend on gift giving, and will let you know if you’re sticking to your budget.
- Do a draw. If you have a particularly large extended family, see if they would be interested doing a holiday gift draw, so that instead of buying for everyone, each person only buys for just one other person. Not only does this cut down on the expense of gift-giving, but you’ll have the means to make that one gift you do buy a bit extra special.
- Give your time. Things are nice, but when it comes right down to it, your time is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give to those who love you. Wrap up a box with a note inside letting the recipient know that when they’re ready, you’ll be there to enjoy a meal together, go to that pottery workshop you’ve both been eyeing, finally start a book club together, or to teach them a skill you have that they’ve always wanted to learn.
- Always look for the best deals. Comparison shop online, take advantage of coupon codes if you’re shopping online (track them down using sites like Honey), and use loyalty points if you have them. Foresters members can also take advantage of MemberDeals, an exclusive benefit that gives members access to a huge selection of discounts on products, services, and exciting experiences. Log in to MyForesters.com for all the details.
- Go in together. Group gifts are a great way to share holiday gift costs. See if your cousins want to go in together on a gift for your aunt, or if your siblings want to pitch in for a gift for Mom and Dad.
- Plan ahead for next year. By setting a budget, using budgeting apps, and keeping careful track of how much you’re spending and who you’re spending it on this year, you can get an idea of what you’ll need to save to make next year’s holidays a little easier to manage. You could set up a special savings account in which a set amount of money is automatically deposited each pay period. Even as little as $20 every two weeks can add up over the course of the year and give you a little bit of breathing room when the holidays roll around again next year.
Remember, it really is the thought that counts. If you can’t afford to spend what someone else in your family spends on gifts, it doesn’t mean that you love them any less—or that they’ll think less of you. Looking after your own financial well-being during the holidays is one of the most important things you can do to help you start off the new year on the right foot.