3 Tips for Wrangling in the Holiday Stress
The holiday season can be one of much joy, but also much anxiety. Between your roles with your family as the cook, present provider and/or party planner, and your stress level at work going up due to year-end items and the holiday season, lots of times the anxiety can outweigh the joy.
Though no financial tips can help make the time you must spend with your estranged uncle any better, a good game plan and budget going into the season can help prevent bank balance shock come January. Along with a budget and plan, there are several other ways you can be ready for the holidays and wrangle in the holiday stress.
1. Pre-planning holiday meals and gift ideas can make the holidays much easier to wrangle in. Start by figuring out when you will be celebrating with friends and family. For each of those occasions, outline the requirements you will have for each festivity.
2. Come up with the budget you can comfortably set through the holidays. This is an important step, and you need to think through it completely, as well as apply the next few steps to make it accurate. If you under-budget (that is, live in a dream world where gifts only cost $5 each), you will likely spread your budget across too many things and end up vastly overspending.
Whether it be to provide the turkey, decorate your house or buy gifts, all of these things take time and money, and therefore should be planned out ahead of time. If you must buy gifts, list out the names of all who you will be buying for, and come up with how much you would like to spend on each one. In this step it is always better to overestimate.
Once you have a plan and budget in place for how much you will spend on food, atmosphere, and gifts for the occasion, then you are ready to apply some smart tips on how to accomplish your plan while staying on budget, and maybe even saving money.
3. The biggest tip you can get during the holiday season is to always shop to save. If you go into a store with your mind set on several items that you are going to buy regardless of the cost, you may actually miss out on better items that are on sale for less. Always check the sale and clearance sections of the store to find the best deals. Also, by going to discount stores, you can save big on brand-name clothing and merchandise.
The earlier you start to buy, the better off you will be. Many times people feel the financial crunch of the holidays simply because they try to do everything extra for the holiday a week before it happens. Who says you can’t start buying Christmas gifts in July? Starting early can help you spread the burden of extra costs across a longer time period. You also can do this with non-perishable food items that you will need for preparing holiday meals.
Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, it doesn’t mean you have missed out on all the sales. Many retailers actually have better deals before Christmas than they do just after Thanksgiving. Watch out for store ads to find out where you should focus your shopping. Planning to spend $25 on something, and only spending $15 because you got it on sale, can make a difference in how your budget ends up come January.
Try to plan holiday travel arrangements ahead of time so you don’t have to pay excessive amounts for a last-minute flight. Try to plan your holiday travels around the high airline traffic days such as Christmas Eve. Leave a day or two early and try to wait a couple of days after the holiday to return whenever possible.
You can pay up to double trying to fly on the high traffic days, leaving a big dent in your budget. Also, if you are attending Christmas parties where you are traveling to, think ahead and order gift-wrapped gifts online that will be delivered to the address you are visiting. It saves you time, money and the headache of having to transport gifts with you.
Above all always remember that the holidays are really about enjoying time with friends and family. All of the extra stuff is just that, stuff. Buying every gift for every person, and having the most elaborate Christmas party of the season is not worth a year’s worth of credit card debt. Making your budget and sticking to it can really make for a great holiday season that you can enjoy, but not stress over.