5 Holiday Mistakes That Could (Literally) Cost You
The holidays are just around the corner.
Which means it’s time to prepare for vacations, catch up with family and old friends, and eat great food. While the holidays are about quality time and making memories, it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending. Here are five holiday mistakes to avoid this year, so you can enjoy the season with your finances intact:
- You’re shopping without a budget or list.
It’s incredibly kind to get each of your relatives, colleagues, and in-laws thoughtful presents and cards to show them your appreciation, but your wallet might be crying for help sooner than you think. One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make during the holidays is shopping without a spending plan.
When you’re shopping for loved ones, you’re imagining how happy they’ll be when they’re opening your gift. But remember, financial responsibilities aren’t on vacation when you are. Create a budget for your gifts. Once you know how much you can afford to spend, create a list that fits your budget. And remember, don’t go overboard and buy gifts for everyone you know. A simple card can go the extra mile to make a gift more special if you’ve determined to spend less on an individual. Here’s a free holiday budget printable to get you started.
- You’re always the host.
If you’re the person that always offers food, transportation, and lodging to everyone, you might want to try a new approach this year. It’s thoughtful to go the extra mile during the holidays, but don’t stretch yourself or your pockets too thin.
Consider splitting the responsibilities with your friends and family. Being so accommodating might not be something you think of as overspending, but you’d be surprised by how much things add up. The more people there are in your home, the more likely you are to have to go to the store and restock food and toiletries, and don’t forget about that extra high utility bill at the end of the month.
Suggest hosting a potluck style gathering this year. This will relieve you of preparing everything, and each guest is responsible for bringing a dish or two to share. At a minimum, you’ll save money on food and drinks, and your guests can bring the napkins and disposable items as well.
Ask for help and try splitting responsibilities to help you enjoy the holidays instead of being the only one that makes them possible. If you’re the one traveling to visit family, make sure your finances are in order before you leave. Read more about our banking traveling tips.
- You’re shopping too late.
So you’ve created your list and a tight budget, that’s great! Don’t wait until the last minute to actually make your purchases. By then, sales may be over and stock will be limited.
Start your shopping early so you can snag deals while they’re still available. Taking the extra time to look at sales in person or online can pay off big-time when you get the shopping done earlier and with a better deal. Some stores offer price matching, so make sure you’ve done your research beforehand, to ensure you got the best price.
Time is of the essence. When you wait until the last minute, you’re much more likely to bust your budget, because you’ll just be rushing to find what you need. When it gets later in the season, what you budgeted for originally might be gone, or has gone up in price and shipping as the holidays get closer.
- You’re relying on credit.
Do your best NOT to rely on your credit cards during the holidays. Once the holidays are over, you shouldn’t still be making payments, the bills need to be paid, and you’ll realize the holidays did you more harm than good. You don’t have to wait for winter to come to start budgeting. Start early, and make a budget that fits your needs best.
The holidays are a great time to enjoy time with family and friends, but you shouldn’t feel like the only way to show your love is through expensive presents and decor. Enjoy the holidays in a way that doesn’t destroy your personal accounts. This year, make it a goal to give quality instead of quantity, which isn’t always gifts.
- You’re trying to keep up.
Don’t make the holidays a competition about who can wear the most expensive clothes, buy the flashiest gifts, or serve the priciest dinner. Make the holidays about creating lasting memories and enjoying time with your loved ones instead of showing-off. The holidays are a great time with the people close to you, but you also need to get back to your regular life when they’re over. You want to make sure you can return from the holiday refreshed and better off than when they started, the holidays shouldn’t ruin your goals for the rest of the year.
Don’t stress too much about all the “need-to’s” that come with the holiday season. All you need to do is enjoy the time you get with the people in your life! Gifts and guests can take a toll on you if you let them, focus on what’s important and remember that being generous doesn’t mean you have to give up your financial goals.
Enjoy the holidays.
–Your Team at Lincoln Savings Bank