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Top Tips for Managing Holiday Spending

During the holiday season, it can be very tempting to overspend – especially if you’re looking for last-minute gifts.

Here are five tips to help you spend reasonably so you don’t have regrets – or large amounts of long-term debt – in the new year:

1. Create a spending strategy You might think it goes against the spirit of the season, but planning a budget that carefully considers who receives gifts and how much you’ll spend on them is a smart way to manage your expenses. Using debit or cash when possible also helps avoid the shock of huge credit card bills.

2. Secret Santa, One and Done, etc. Whatever you call it, many people who are watching their spending or simply don’t like mass consumerism will agree with others in their circle to buy gifts only for one person. You can still have fun doing this and you won’t be stuck with a bunch of gifts that aren’t necessarily what you need or want.

3. Reconsider gifts for coworkers Some workplaces have a gift exchange, either informal (e.g., buy only for close colleagues) or formal (like the Secret Santa concept above). People may do this out of obligation or to avoid looking like a “Scrooge” if they don’t participate. Casually ask around to gauge interest in gifting and if you can get together for a nice lunch instead.

4. Challenges with international purchases Retailers bombard you with tempting sales, especially around the holidays. Sometimes the deals are great, but be aware of issues that arise with international purchases. Shipping fees can be high and you may also be required to pay duty on your purchase. The exchange rate is another factor to consider. Suddenly, that great deal can become expensive, so be careful when buying from foreign sources.

5. And a little something for yourself When shopping for family and friends, chances are you’ve spotted something that you’d like as well. While it’s okay to treat yourself, be careful not to put your disciplined budget in jeopardy. Whether you’re buying for yourself or others, the bills keep coming just the same.

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