|It will probably be no surprise to hear that the holidays can be a very stressful time of year. In fact, a survey from 2015 found that:
"Sixty-two percent of respondents described their stress level as 'very or somewhat' elevated during the holidays, while only 10 percent reported no stress during the season."
From this study, one of the top three reasons given for this elevation in stress levels around the holidays was from the financial obligations. These expectations include purchasing gifts, traveling, entertaining, holiday decorating and more.
Finances can be stressful at the best of times, so having some tips for savvy holiday spending might help to lower stress and increase the chances of being able to relax with loved ones this holiday season.
Read on to explore how creating a budget, finding extra spending money, and considering alternative ways of giving can help to lower your stress this holiday season so that you can enjoy what really matters to you.
3 Tips for Savvy Holiday Spending
1. Make (and Stick To) a Budget
You might be rolling your eyes right now thinking, 'of course you need a budget!' but setting a spending limit is more than just coming up with a number in your mind that you want to spend over the holidays. It's about creating a solid financial plan and having a way to track your spending and savings over time so that you have a clear and complete picture of your holiday spending.
Whitney Hansen, a personal finance coach, blogger and host of The Money Nerds Podcast shares her recommendations:
The biggest piece of advice I can give people during the holidays is set the expectation now. Tell people you are on a strict budget that you aren't able to give expensive gifts, but instead you would love to spend some quality time with them. Setting the expectation early does two things:
1) Reduces the amount of shame or guilt we feel around gifts
2) Helps you prioritize your financial goals
There's nothing worse than overspending, feeling guilty, and carrying additional credit card debt into the new year because you didn't clearly communicate your situation.
A great (and free) budgeting option is through the holiday shopping budget offered by Microsoft - it's free to download or you can use it online with Excel. I really like this option because you can share the link with others who can join in and edit the budget at the same time.
Tip: Looking for a budget for your overall expenses? Check out the free Build a Better Budget worksheet through moneyaftergraduation.com.
2. Find Extra Spending Money
Side hustle may be a buzz word you have heard lately, but what does it actually mean? In a nutshell, it means to supplement your income with other jobs or task that are separate from your main source or 'day job'. A side hustle can take many forms from babysitting, to becoming a part-time virtual assistant, or even filling out surveys while you watch your evening drama on Chromecast.
Regardless of the type of job or task, as long as your side hustle(s) are expanding or saving your income and don't come with a liability (eg. a pay to join service), having this extra income in your pocket or bank account can greatly decrease stress over the holidays. Even making an extra $50 a month can go towards your holiday budget and can reduce the strain on your stress levels.
Some ideas to get your side hustle on include:
Already have a side hustle (or several) helping out your finances? Feel free to share in the comments section below so others can consider trying it out!
Listen: 48 Hustles Ideas to Get You Started from The Side Hustle School
3. Discover Alternative Ways of Giving
Expanding our definition of what it means to give to others from the traditional holiday sense of a gift having monetary value can open up an immense amount of possibilities of showing your appreciation and love for others.
Some options include:
Consider what the holidays mean to you, implement these savvy holiday shopping tips to reduce your stress levels, and above all else, remember to be kind to yourself.
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