It’s been a really strange year with Covid-19 wreaking havoc across the world. For many, the upcoming holidays are a huge source of stress as we are all navigating unchartered territory and trying to keep our loved ones safe while trying to keep family traditions intact. The holidays are expensive, and perhaps this year they will be less so given activities & holiday merrymaking remain constrained. But it still takes careful planning to come into the new year without a pile of debt & regrets.
Here are some tips to keep your holiday spending on track:
- Set a Master Budget– It’s helpful to take a step back before you start spending money on gifts and other holiday expenses to determine how much money you can afford to spend. Perhaps you were lucky and had a good year with no job or income loss and lower commuting expenses. You might find yourself with more to spend this year. No matter what your situation may be- it’s important to start with a plan and an overall budget. You may find, for example, that your entertaining budget is lower this year but that you want to spend a bit more on special family members who you are unable to see in person. That’s perfectly acceptable- as long as you have a plan!
- Read the Room- This may not be the year for lavish expenditures like magnums of champagne or fancy designer digs. As we all buckle down for continued social distancing and work from home, this might be the best year yet for practical gifts. Perhaps you discovered an amazing pair of slippers or the perfect ergonomic chair. Whatever it is, remember that your loved ones are spending more time at home and will appreciate novel gifts that consider their current situation and challenges. Remember that a well-thought gift always trumps a lavish one.
- Gift the Gift of Time– Consider your talents and time as exceptionally sought after resources that may mean a heck of a lot more than money. After a long 9+ months of lockdowns, chances are the people in your life are craving time with loved ones and experiences like never before. While options might be limited, get creative! Have you always wanted to try cross country skiing or hiking a difficult trail? This may be the year and don’t be afraid to find ways to safely bring your loved ones along or better yet plan that dream trip even if it’s a couple of years out!
- Don’t Forget to Give Back- No matter how big or small your budget is this holiday season, one of the most important things on your list should be to give back to those in need. I am a huge believer that the holidays are much more joyful when we prioritize ways to help others. Donating food, making holiday cards, or helping an elderly neighbor clear snow…. the options are limitless and many are cheap or free. But the rewards and benefits to both parties far outweigh the effort & cost. Pay it forward and let your generosity enrich the lives of others!
How will your holidays look this year compared to other years? How are you keeping your finances on track?