4 Ways to Avoid the Holiday Spending Hangover

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The holidays bring many happy and joyous things. Even shopping for holiday gifts can be fun and exciting. It’s all in good fun until the credit card bills start rolling in. The credit card fog is one that can hang on for years to come unless you learn how to curb the holiday spending hangover before it occurs.

Make a List

It sounds basic, but making a holiday shopping list goes a long way in saving you money and avoiding purchases on your credit card that you cannot afford. At the top of your list, write your total holiday shopping budget. When setting your budget, set it at the amount of money you can spend in cash or that you can afford to pay off in full when the credit card bill comes in January. Then, make a list of the people you need to buy a gift for. Next to the name, write a spending amount and one to three possible gift options in prioritized order.

In addition to the holiday gifts, also consider holiday entertaining when creating your list and spending budget. Include the holiday meals or parties you intend to throw. Make sure your total planned spending is within your budget. Create your shopping list or catering costs for each of these events and then add the total to amount you plan to spend on gifts. If your list exceeds your budget, then go back through it to figure out areas where you can shave off costs.

Use Cash

Go back to basics and create budgeting envelopes or use a money jar for each aspect of your holiday spending. Assign each envelope or jar a name for its purpose, such as “Christmas Dinner” or “Gifts for the Kids.” Put your allotted amount in the envelopes and when you shop, use the cash in the appropriate envelope. Using cash means you don’t have to rack up charges on your credit card and will help you stick to your budget.

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Share Costs

You can also avoid racking up holiday expenses by sharing the costs of holiday entertainment, meals and gifts. Rather than burden yourself with the cost of buying food for a holiday meal for 20 of your closest family members, ask each family to bring a side dish or dessert and then you can provide the main course and drinks. Or instead of buying your parents that expensive TV they have been wanting for their living room, enlist your brothers and sisters to kick in some of the money.

Start Early

Start your shopping early or better yet, shop all year long. When the grocery store puts canned or non-perishable foods on sale, stock up for the current shopping trip as well as what you will need for the holidays. Do the same with your holiday gift shopping. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to start working on your shopping list when you can pick items up throughout the year. This helps you to save money and it helps you to avoid the panic and impulsive shopping that sets in as the holiday looms in front of you.

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If you’re still paying off holiday debt from last year, consider getting a Debt Payoff Plan to help you stay motivated and show you how to get out of debt faster. And check out these other great money-saving articles: