Rights & Money

Stop Overspending for the Holidays

Don’t let holiday shopping leave you in debt.

By Katrina Caruso

If you’re like most people, you’ve begun buying gifts for the holidays and somewhere in the back of your mind is a growing sense of dread about the credit card bill awaiting you down the line. The holidays can be expensive, but here are some tips that might save you money while keeping you on everyone’s “nice” list.

Plan ahead: Figure out how much money you have to spend, and then break the total down per person. Creating a budget will reduce your stress, and may even help you to think of gift ideas for everyone that will fall within the budget.

Cut down: Decide with friends, siblings, and spouses whether you might cut back on or even nix the gifts entirely this year. If you choose this method, you’re letting them off the hook, and they may be grateful that they can cross one gift off their list. If you still want to give something, consider making something for one another (for example: baked goods, a nice card, or a handmade ornament) or keeping it under $5–$10.

Be “scent-sible”: Rather than splurging on full-priced, full-sized perfumes, try a sampler box (sold online and in-store at places like Sephora and pharmacies), which often will offer a rebate on a future full-sized purchase.

Pay later: Consider giving an IOU coupon for a gift that you’ll buy during the Boxing Day sales. You can give something small but related to the “real” gift in the meantime.

Treat them: Most people will cherish quality time together over a new item that may just end up as clutter. Consider giving an experience that you can do together at a later date (for example, a nice meal together, a spa package, or sports tickets).

Buy local and/or handmade: Instead of spending money on something flashy, check out a local holiday craft fair (usually held on weekends throughout December). This way, you’ll be giving a one-of-a-kind gift, you won’t be spending retail prices, and your money goes directly to the artist.

Join forces: Does your nephew want the newest video game console? For the expensive stuff, pool your money together with others so you don’t break the bank.

Photo: iStock/Studio-Annika.