Many people feel the pressure to spend during the holidays. It is a traditional time to give gifts and cook extravagant meals, but you don’t have to go broke in the process. Instead of spending everything you have, or taking out a loan to pay for everything, choose another way.
If you are looking for ways to enjoy the holidays without spending everything you have, here are some tips to get you started.
Start with Your Time
One of the best parts of the holidays is time spent together. Whenever possible, spend time with those for which you care. You can catch up with friends over a cup of tea at home. Or visit a local park and spend the afternoon. Even a movie at home can be a great activity to share with others.
The point is, you don’t have to spend anything to enjoy each other’s company.
Consider a Trade
You aren’t the only person feeling financial pressure this time of year. If you and your friends are short on cash, consider working out other trades. For example, trade babysitting duties with each other, trade hosting duties for regular dinners. Again, there is no need to be extravagant. Sometimes, it’s just nice not to have to cook one night, regardless of the meal being had.
If you each possess different skill sets or knowledge bases, use those to strike a deal. Maybe your resume writing skills could help a friend, while their sewing abilities can save your favorite shirt. Traditional gift exchanges are trades at their core, so don’t be afraid to use the idea without having to spend to do so.
Call it Off
Gift giving often includes the pressure of reciprocity. If you don’t have it in your budget this year, just let the other person know. Explain the situation, and let them know that you would like to skip the exchange. If they are having financial difficulties too, they may consider a release from a perceived obligation more than anything in the world.
Or Simply Delay
Sometimes, you have the ability to give, but it’s hard to shop for everyone all at once. If that is the case, see if you spread out the celebration. For example, schedule gatherings for the first weekend or two after Christmas. That way, you can give yourself a little more time to purchase suitable items, lessening the financial strain.
Stay Away from Debt During the Holidays
It is tempting to simply acquire debt to pay for the gifts you think you have to buy. However, you can be stuck paying off that debt for weeks, months, or even years after this holiday season has passed. And, even if it gets you past this year, what are you going to do next year?
Debt can be a vicious cycle, even when you had the best of intentions when you used the money. Before you stretch yourself too thin this holiday season, consider the ideas above and see if you can’t find a better way. You may find out that your friends and family are just as happy to look for alternatives to the spending tradition.