Manage the urge to splurge and reduce debt in the
holiday season

How about some planning and budgeting to reduce debt and de-stress the holiday season?

List all the things you need or want for the holidays and assess the cost of each item. If you don’t have enough money to buy all the items on the list, eliminate what you can. If that still leaves you without enough funds, then keep cutting until your list is affordable.

Now you can start planning for next year. Knowing what the holiday season will cost, divide the amount into twelve. Starting in January, put that amount into a separate savings account, so that when December rolls around you will be able to meet your holiday costs.

For example, if you spent $600 this year, then you will know that you need to save $50 every month to have that $600 for next year. If you don’t have enough cash to buy all the gifts you would like to buy, try making something for certain people on your list.

Christmas cookies

Jams or homemade cookies will be appreciated by bachelors or friends who don’t have the time to cook.

Give some serious thought to what the holiday season means to you. Many people believe it’s a time of joy and fellowship for all. It can also be a frantic time leading to fatigue and anxiety.

If you are buying someone a gift just because they bought you one, then it definitely is time for you to re-evaluate the meaning of the season.

If you are accustomed to buying multiple gifts for family members, check to see if this is what they really want and expect. If they are interested in a simpler holiday then you will be encouraged to reduce debt.

We have cut down on the number of gifts for each other. To compensate, we started a tradition called the stocking exchange. Each of us draws the name of another family member for whom we'll stuff a stocking.

The only rule is that all the presents in each stocking must cost a total of $20 or less. On Christmas morning we open the presents in our stockings in turn. It's a most enjoyable and hilarious two hours.

We have adult daughters who love to come and spend Christmas day with us. One daughter, who is very busy developing her law career says, “I get so stressed about what to buy people, then I go into a dollar store to concentrate on the stocking items. It's so much fun and inexpensive, I walk out feeling great!” Another daughter says, “In one way it’s nicer to get less because I remember who gave me what.”

With a little imagination and planning, you can reduce debt in the holiday season. Why not turn it into a stress-free time to simply enjoy being with family and friends?

Making the effort to reduce costs, while making the celebrations more entertaining is surely a win-win situation for all.