CHALLENGE: Cut Holiday Spending

by JMoro on November 6, 2012

I have a confession to make. Last year I went overboard on holiday spending. The Holidays are almost upon us again this year and it’s the perfect time for another challenge. This time I am challenging myself to spend less money this holiday season and leave my credit card in my wallet. I challenge you to do the same.

Last year was the fiancé and I’s first Christmas together which meant two families to buy gifts for, and our first Christmas in our condo which meant decorations needed to be purchased. But all the excuses in the world won’t make up for the fact that our holiday spending hangover lasted well into the spring. We used credit cards to purchase some gifts and it was an endless cycle of paying the credit cards down and then needing money and having to use our credit cards for necessities. Needless to say we learned our lesson after that and we barely use our credit cards anymore. But the holidays are fast approaching and the only way to avoid going overboard is to make a plan and stick to it. After some research I have come up with the following plan.

Create a budget

Decide how much you can afford to spend in total this holiday season and then create categories to break down your spending. My categories include gifts, decorations, and holiday cooking. When it comes to gifts you need to first decide who you can realistically afford to buy for and then decide how much you can spend on each person. This can be the most difficult part. You might not be able to buy gifts for every single person you know; and that’s okay. As you may know I am saving for a wedding this year. Therefore I have decided to let certain people know that Christmas is going to be very small this year and I won’t be able to get everyone gifts; and that since they are most likely going to be buying us a wedding gift we are not expecting them to buy us gifts this holiday season (not that we ever expect gifts from anyone). By doing this I am eliminating the guilt (and awkward moment) of receiving a gift from someone and not having a gift to give in return. See my budget below.

Holiday cooking:5%
Decorations: 10%
Gifts: 85% Total (Broken down below)

  • My parents: 15%
  • In-laws (2 sets of them): 30%
  • Grandparents: 10%
  • Niece 1: 5%
  • Niece 2: 5%
  • Niece 3: 5%
  • Niece 4: 5%
  • Nephew 1: 5%
  • Nephew 2: 5%

Create a saving plan

Now that you have decided exactly how much you are going to spend you need to come up with a plan for saving that money. Like I said, one of the main parts of this challenge is to not use a credit card for anything. Figure out how many weeks you have until you start your shopping and decide how much you need to set aside from each paycheck. I don’t have children yet so starting to save in November is enough time for me. If you have kids you have probably already started setting aside money but you can start setting it aside more aggressively as December looms closer. I plan on starting my shopping on December 15th , giving me about 5 weeks (5 paychecks) to come up with all the cash I need. I have figured out how much I need to save from each pay check and will start this week.

Stick to the budget

A good way to make sure you stick to your budget is to do your research. Know what you want to buy for each person and where you can get the best deals on those items. Go into the store with a purpose, buy what you need to buy, and get out as fast as you can. Wandering aimlessly around a store will only cause you to overspend.

Don’t shop for yourself

As bad as it sounds this is the hardest thing for me. With all the great holiday sales out there I find myself using the “one for you, one for me” mindset. This holiday season I will practice self-control. “one for you, NONE for me”

I challenge you to join me in spending less than you did last holiday season. You can do so by setting a budget or your own, making a plan, and making some shopping rules and guidelines. I wish you the best of luck.

If you need help saving money this fall click here to download our fall budgeting worksheet.

Be sure to check back after the holidays to see how I did.

How do you avoid spending too much around the holidays?
Have you ever experienced a holiday spending hangover?

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Janice is the Web Content Management Coordinator at American Consumer Credit Counseling. She loves penny-pinching and discovering creative ways to save money without sacrificing too much. As an enthusiastic financial blog follower, she is always searching for new money saving tips and tricks and is eager to share them with others.

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