Periods of increased spending can be financially challenging for anyone – even if you don’t have student debt. The winter holiday season especially can make for tricky budgeting: there are traveling expenses if you’re taking advantage of vacation time, holiday parties to attend (maybe you need a new outfit or don’t want to show up without a bottle of wine), and, of course, gift giving.
While there is a ton of added pressure to spend, it’s crucial to keep a level head and to budget responsibly. The last thing you want to do is fall behind on a student loan payment, go into credit card debt, or overdraw on a bank account. Starting off the new year in financial distress is not worth it.
So, courtesy of NerdWallet, we present you with tips for reining in your spending (without being miserable).
It’s easy to feel like you have to spend a lot during holidays and major life events (weddings, birthdays, etc.) – we’ve all been there. Don’t worry about other people’s judgment of what you show up with to any type of gathering. The people that matter to you most know that if you’re in school or if you’re a recent graduate, you have a lot of expenses (and not a lot of cash coming in). They won’t want you going into excessive debt just to save face. A nice handwritten note, a batch of homemade cookies, or just your physical presence is all it takes to make others know that they are loved and appreciated.
The overflowing expectations around the holidays can entice us to spend more than we can afford. Not only do we have bills to face once the decorations are put away, but 43% of respondents to an Experian survey say extra expenses also make the holidays hard to enjoy.
Now’s the time to plan so your December spirit doesn’t lead to January bills. We asked five experts on frugality what they do to avoid holiday overspending.
Donna Freedman, author of “Your Playbook for Tough Times,” says you need to recognize your spending triggers. Are you trying to make the holidays more magical for your family? Can you resist anything but a great a deal? Knowing what drives your spending can help you stop. Here’s what she recommends:
For Tiffany Aliche, aka “The Budgetnista,” step one is making a list of whom you plan to give to and how much you plan to spend. Make sure your gift budget fits into an overall holiday budget that accounts for shipping, decorations, food, travel and entertainment. Her top tips:
The blogger who writes under the pseudonym Mrs. Frugalwoods says her family’s frugality is “larger than the holidays.” She notes that while the season is “wonderful and it’s fun, it’s not an excuse to dip into your emergency fund.” Her tips:
Mary Hunt, the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” blogs at Everyday Cheapskate. She says it’s important to understand that your credit limit is not a license to spend. Try these instead:
Having a plan is central to being thrifty, says Gary Foreman, founder of The Dollar Stretcher. “If you don’t have a plan, you’ll overspend,” he says, noting that some people don’t finish paying for Christmas until April or May. His tips:
Bev O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.
The article 5 Frugality Pros Help You Rein In Holiday Spending originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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