The last several weeks of the year can be a financial hardship. Beyond family and close friends, there are others, such as colleagues and children’s teachers, to buy gifts for and the work parties asking everyone to bring food. All of the normal bills and other financial obligations still require payment during these weeks as well. This can be an extremely stressful period of time and can lead into very poor financial decisions that at the least, have ripple effects through the first few months of the year.
There are several things you can do it to alleviate this stress. You can hope to win the lottery every November. You can say no to some of the extra things. You can give homemade or no gifts. You can skip some or all of the parties. At various points in your financial journey this saying no might be the right choice for you. With some intentional planning and saving though, you can experience all the wonderment which is the holiday season and greatly reduce your financial stress.
In January, as you are setting your goals and resolutions for the year, decide on a gift budget for the following December. Then divide this amount by 11 and save this amount each month until the end of November. This will give you extra money to use for all the added expenses of this season. Another option is to set aside all or some of your income tax return for this purpose. Taking this small step can lead to a more relaxed and pleasant time around the holidays and allow you to really enjoy friends and family instead of worrying about finances every passing second.