From gift giving to restaurant gratuities, spending a little extra money around the holidays has become as traditional as decorating the tree or lighting the menorah. But for much of America, especially students dealing with the expenses of college, this tradition is not always easily carried out (at least not without a following New Year’s resolution of SAVE MONEY).
But with the right planning and budgeting, the holiday season doesn’t have to be as much of a stress on the wallet and can be more of a financial feat – but only with the right strategy.
Take a look at these pointers to prepare your budget for a green-saving holiday.
Bring back the Christmas card
E-vites and Facebook wall posts have largely replaced the holiday cards and save-the-dates of yesteryear, especially among today’s younger generation. Christmas cards, however, have not lost any value as a meaningful (and not to mention economical) way of showing your love for friends and family, and shouldn’t be overlooked. A well-written holiday card along with something small will say more about your feelings for someone than a text message and a bit of money or a gift card ever will – which brings us to our next tip.
Gift cards are rarely the first idea you come up with when deciding what to get for those on your list – they’re usually the result of last-minute thinking or the “I can’t think of anything else” excuse. And, aside from being less than thoughtful, getting gift cards for several people on your list does add up and will end up costing much more than a series of simpler, more thoughtful gifts would have. Prepare early and keep gift cards as a very, very last resort to save extra money.
Time is money
The cliché is no better suited for any occasion than it is for gift giving. A gift idea that clearly took time to come up with – whether made, baked, or simply small but thoughtful – will make the recipient forget about the price tag and appreciate the thoughtfulness (which, really, is what the holidays are about). Even spending time with someone on a small outing or a meal can mean more than a material item, but again, it just takes a little planning.
Make a list (and check it more than twice)
Channel your inner Santa and create a list of gifts and outings that will make up your holiday season, as well as a rough budget range for each item. Once you have this list you can see where you need to focus your efforts, as in what items you can afford to add or should maybe cut out, or what items will require you to seek out coupons or deals. Update the list as you go along to keep yourself in check, and even consider noting how much, if anything, you plan to buy on credit to really ensure staying out of the red.
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