How to be less broke for the holidays
You were super on top of your pre-holiday budgeting and have a nice little nest egg saved up for all that shopping, right? Totally. Us too. No need to panic, nothing to see here, nope. But in the instance that you, uh, have “a friend” who is starting to stress right now about handling the sudden spending onslaught of the holiday season because she didn’t plan ahead, tell her not to worry; it’s not too late to start being smart about your money. Here are a few tips to keep the ship running a little tighter through the New Year:
- Try not to shop for yourself (too much) during those awesome sales. According to a study from the National Retail Federation last year, nearly 60% of Americans are practicing the art of “self-gifting,” spending an average of $130. Now, don’t get us wrong; we’re totally down with treating yourself every now and again. But with all the crazy deals that go on around this time of year, coupled with the fact that you’ve constantly got shopping on the brain, it’s way easy to go overboard. Before you jump in and start elbowing peeps to get your hands on those killer cashmere sweatpants, set a budget for yourself. And stick to it. Seriously. Santa’s watching.
- Eat and drink at home as much as you can. It’s pretty much inevitable that you’re going to be spending more on going out in the coming month or so. For the nights that you’re not stuffing your face with canapés and fruit cake at some holiday party or other, make every effort to eat at home. Big one-pot dishes like chili or soup can go a long way both money and time-wise, plus, it’s easier to keep things healthy (which means less guilt about all those holiday cookies). For you social butterflies out there that can’t seem to turn down an invitation to grab a hot toddy every other evening, invite your friends over for an aperitif before you hit the town; it’ll cut down on your bar tab significantly. Plus, putting on a whiskey jacket before braving the elements is never a dumb idea.
- Mind your subscriptions. Traveling a bunch for the holidays? Make sure to keep an eye on your subscriptions if you’ve signed up for things like Blue Apron or Club W. Most require at least a week’s notice to skip a shipment. Having a box of fresh ingredients rotting on your doorstep because you forgot to skip a week is a massive bummer (and it’s also a pretty gross thing to come home to).
- Clean out your closets. This is a good idea no matter what time of year it is, but bringing your haul into second-hand clothing stores like Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange can mean extra cash money in your pocket. At the very least, you can bring your gently used goods to a Goodwill as a donation and spread some of that holiday juju.
- Don’t. Go. Into. Debt. (Any. Further.) The National Retail Federation predicts a 3.6% increase in overall holiday spending this year due to people generally having more money in their pockets and increased credit lines. But be careful, big spender; while it may feel great to indulge in that big-hearted holiday mood (and wiggle out of that normal spending guilt because it’s for someone else!), spending more than you can pay off on your credit cards can have long-ranging consequences. If you surpass your budget early, consider putting together some handmade gifts that you can be excited to give, like any of these DIY terrariums or these darling gold-leaf paper mache bowls.