Nothing makes a holiday season more joyous that the peace that
comes from knowing you won't face the effects of overspending come
January. While good old-fashioned saving and planning ahead are
still the best way to manage your holiday finances, that doesn't
There are plenty of things you can do right now to keep holiday
expenditures under control. Carrie Rocha, founder of PocketYourDollars.com
and author of Pocket Your Dollars (January 2013, Bethany House),
says spending motivations are multi-faceted, drawing from
physiological, emotional, social and spiritual components.
That doesn't mean we are powerless against
Love to shop? Blame it on chemistry. There are drug-like
compounds at work during the holidays, and we're not talking
eggnog. "Physiologically, buying something new makes us feel
good," says Rocha. "The body releases a chemical called
dopamine when we surround ourselves with new things and when we
make purchases, especially purchases on plastic (credit or
debit)." Rocha says generosity creates feel-good emotions,
too. "It's like a dopamine double-whammy that creates a short-term
high and some very impulsive decisions." Be strong.
If your holiday plans include visiting far-flung family, take
care not to incur extra costs associated with too much luggage.
They're family; they can stand to see you in the same jeans a few
days in a row. While you're at it, pack a lunch. (Remember you'll
still have to buy beverages.) A family of four easily can burn
through $50 on a not-so-satisfying airport meal. Or, you can
inspire envy with your homemade picnic. Bonus: You'll feel better
and have more energy when you get off the plane than if you'd opted
for fast food.
Get free shipping from hundreds of online retailers by ordering
on free shipping day: Monday, Dec. 17. Many brick-and-mortar
retailers also offer free "site to store" shipping. Target comps
shipping on all online orders (and 5 percent off) when you use its
REDCard. Amazon Mom and Amazon
Student accounts are free, and if you have not had an Amazon Prime account in
the last 13 months, you can sign up for a free one-month trial.
Free shipping all around!
Rocha suggests CamelCamelCamel.com for
price history information. "At a glance you can see the highest,
lowest and average price that an item sold for at Amazon.com." She also
advocates using coupons for items you plan to buy anyway. Don't
forget price matching, Rocha says. "Some retailers will even give
you a price adjustment if they offer a lower price in the days
after you've made a purchase."
It's not just about gifts. This time of year is full of
extra expenses. Hosting family meals or holiday parties, cards,
postage, and pricey baking ingredients all stretch the budget.
Rocha advises drafting a meal plan early. "Include what you plan to
bake, so you can cherry-pick the best sale-priced items from the
grocery store throughout December." Look at holiday spending
holistically-and trim strategically. Nobody wants you to scrimp on
Set limits, says Rocha. "Whether you limit who you buy
for, how much you'll spend or how many things you'll get, you need
to set a boundary." She also warns against trying to get
everything on your list in one day.
If none of these ideas sound good, it's time to get a
part-time gig for the holidays. The extra income will keep holiday
expenses in check. If you're lucky, the employee discounts can be
applied to your gift list.
Just make sure you budget for earplugs; non-stop holiday
music won't hurt your budget, but it could do permanent damage to
your mental health.
See more of Lela's stories here.
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