Laker Cents: Eliminate Holiday Financial Stress

Somewhere between cleaning up leaves from the yard and breaking out the fall sweaters, an icy frost appeared overnight and all of a sudden it’s mid-November. The last two months of the year are some of the most enjoyable and exciting ones…but also what some people say are the most stressful.

You may have noticed your favorite stores already playing holiday tunes and stocking their shelves with red and green decorations, a not-so-subtle way to remind you of the long list of Christmas shopping you need to do. While the thought of gifts, gatherings, and spending can be overwhelming, there are ways to cautiously approach the hectic holidays in a way that will let you (and your wallet) remain happy.

Buy within your means. Everyone is at a different point financially. Consider your unique situation when planning gifts for loved ones. How much can you logically spend on friends and family without breaking your budget? Are you considering gifts that are going to empty your savings? Although giving often feels better than receiving, your friends and family will most likely say it’s the thought that counts, and they’ll appreciate any gesture you do for them.

Get creative with gifts. Think about your strengths and then capitalize on them! Are you a great painter who could create unique pictures then frame them? Maybe your strength is knitting. Everyone could use a pair of mittens or a scarf. One of my favorite things to gift people is a plate of delicious, home-baked goodies they wouldn’t normally get to have. These gifts are not only from the heart, but also cost efficient!

Save, save, save. As someone once told me, “Christmas comes at the same time every year. It shouldn’t be an emergency!” Try setting aside $20-$25 each paycheck for Christmas shopping as the year begins, or give yourself a monthly savings goal that will specifically be for Christmas activities and shopping. Saving is always easier said than done, but starting with small targets in mind will make it easy to hit milestones. Then, when November hits, you’ll feel confident – not panicked.

Find holiday activities that are budget friendly. It’s always fun to splurge on a holiday event, especially if you have children, but there are also inexpensive ways to enjoy the season. Utilize the web, social media, and your local chamber of commerce to find free or low cost chrismtas concerts, movie showings, story hours, or other holiday events. Load up the family and take a “light ride” around town one night to look at the Christmas lights with hot chocolate in tow or have a cookie baking day at home.

Lastly – find reasonable ways to make Christmas work if you really need a financing solution. We understand the need to keep the magic of the holidays alive for children, friends, and families. See what holiday loan specials are running at your financial institution that will help you through the season without following you for years to come. Check ours out here!

It’s true that despite the inevitable stress, November and December can really be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Most importantly, remember this: in the spirit of Christmas, sometimes just being together is worth more than money can buy.

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