As the holiday season reaches its peak, smart spenders get prepared for the unexpected, like the co-workers who give you a last-minute gift, the neighbour who leaves a basket of treats on your porch, hostess gifts for parties you didn’t know about, or the “Plus-Ones” who show up unexpectedly to the family gift exchange. All these situations can send you into a last-minute spending frenzy that can lead to overspending.
So, before you dash to the mall or the wine store to spend a bundle on unplanned gifts, here are a few suggestions to help you ring in the new year with your budget on track and your social life intact.
Stick to the plan
Use the experience of previous years to make and generous list of people you plan gifts for and stick to it. You don’t have to reciprocate every last-minute gift, gesture, or dinner invite. The holidays should be about giving. Accept gifts with grace and make a note to add that person to next year’s list.
Exploit your crafty side
Never under-estimate the sentimental value of home-made gifts. A tin of cookies? A jar of sauce? A hand-made card? These types of gifts require more time than money and most people, especially good neighbours, often put a higher value on these kinds of thoughtful gestures.
Do some team planning
If you have employees or clients and you want to thank them with a lunch or dinner, look for economies of scale. Instead of individual lunches, consider a team lunch or a private party and contain your expenses to one event instead of several. Gift exchanges are another way build morale and contain everyone’s spending to one event.
Most of us don’t have the willpower to resist the endless temptations in a mall full of sights, sounds, and the smell of cinnamon buns. If you go to the mall, the houseware shop with cool gadgets, or the outdoor market with its mulled cider and holiday crafts, you are likely to veer from your planned budget. Instead, shop online, stick to your list, and always aim for free shipping.
Treat yourself in the new year
All of your smart spending should be rewarded. Put something on the list that you can buy for yourself on Boxing Day or in the early weeks of January when a lot of really great stuff goes on sale for very low prices.
Remember that a holiday budget isn’t a constraint. It’s about finding the best way to share what you have with friends, family, and the people in your life. Living well and knowing you can tackle the holiday spending season with confidence is your reward for taking charge of your finances so that can enjoy all of life’s possibilities