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Money Matters Blog

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Recover from Holiday Spending

Giving gifts to loved ones during the holiday season can be a great way to show how much you care. But if spending habits get out of control it can also cause unnecessary stress.

It’s easy to lose track of our spending in the midst of holiday parties and family gatherings. It’s estimated that the average American spends more than $700 on gifts for others during the month of December. If you have blown your budget this holiday season, it’s time to scale back. Here are some ideas to recover from your holiday spending:
  1. Avoid the places you spend extra money. Whether your weak spot is a local shop, the ice cream aisle in the grocery store or your favorite restaurant, avoid it over the next few months. This will help you get into the habit of treating yourself only when you have the extra cash to do so.
  2. Take advantage of leisure activities that cost you (and your friends!) less. Instead of spending money on common outings like eating out or shopping, try these more frugal alternatives:
    Ask friends to bring movies to your place for a movie night instead of going to the theater.
    Organize a potluck dinner instead of going to a restaurant.
    Volunteer your time at a local charitable organization instead of going to a sporting event or concert.
  3. Did you get a holiday bonus this year? Be sure to use it wisely. Pay down a credit card balance or put it into savings! These checks are easy to spend frivolously on a big ticket item that you want, but probably don’t need. Avoid that impulse buy.
  4. After you’ve finished the books that were in your stocking or under the tree, take a trip to the library instead of the bookstore. Library books are completely free entertainment! There’s also a multitude of other forms of entertainment at the library including craft projects, CDs, DVDs and kid-friendly exhibits. Some libraries even offer free passes to local museums and other attractions.
  5. Start saving for 2015’s holiday shopping now. If you put away $50 a month in a Community Financial Holidays Savings Account, you’ll have $500 after October, just in time for holiday shopping! You’ll feel less stressed about spending money around the holidays if you’ve set it aside ahead of time. Plus, you’ll have this amount in cash so you won’t have to worry about paying interest on gifts.
With a little planning and assessment of your goals, you can be in great financial shape by next holiday season. Remember, Christmas is only 351 days away!

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