You’ve likely worked hard all year long to save and spend responsibly. But with the holidays right around the corner, you may notice that it’s not only the temperatures that are dipping—it’s also your bank account. Chances are, your heating bills aren’t solely to blame for those dwindling dollars. With so many opportunities to get into the spirit and celebrate, it’s not unusual to find oneself indulging—and expending—a bit too much. If that’s the case for you, you’re not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 33 percent of Americans expect to spend at least $1,000 on gifts—and those numbers continue to climb, with last year’s holiday spending projections exceeding every year prior. But just because the rest of the country is upping the ante on the most expensive time of the year doesn’t mean you have to.
In fact, to keep your household balance sheet in check, it’s essential to be conscientious about the last—but certainly not least important—quarter. But you don’t have to be a scrooge about it. There are plenty of ways to celebrate and enjoy without going wild. And when all is said and done, your wallet will thank you. Here are a handful of tips to come out of the fourth quarter on top:
- Prioritize: What do you find most meaningful about the holidays? Beautiful meals? Time with family and friends? A big-ticket gift that will bring you joy all year round? When you identify what’s important to you, you can allocate your resources accordingly.
- Set a budget: Determining how much you can afford to spend is always a good idea, no matter how much cash you’re working with. With a dollar amount in mind, you can avoid excessive purchasing and ultimately sail into January feeling gratified rather than guilty.
- Make a list and check it twice: With advertising reaching a fever pitch as the holidays near, it’s a good idea to settle on whom you’ll be buying for and what you plan to get them. Having gifts—and corresponding prices—in mind can help prevent impulse buys and last minute dashes to the store (or a certain buy-with-one-click online retailer).
- Treat yourself: Avoid feeling depleted financially or otherwise by doing your best to take care of yourself. Walks around the block, an hour alone with a book, and even a haircut are all free or low-cost ways to keep your sanity during an otherwise stressful time.
With a little bit of planning, you can conquer the holidays and win the fourth quarter, without losing an arm and a leg. For more information on managing your money anytime of year, visit debrabrede.com.