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Are you overboard Santa or the Christmas Grinch? Find the right balance for the holidays

by:
Jillian Rodrigues

The holidays...a time for socializing, giving and having our budgeting skills put to the test! ‎Do you say "screw the budget!” spend excessively and deal with the aftermath in January? Or are you one of those people who cower away from anything social to avoid opening an already thin-looking wallet? Either way, worrying about keeping up with appearances can take away from the true spirit of the holidays.

 
If you find yourself spending more than you can afford year after year, you may be an overboard Santa. While it's important to enjoy the holidays and make good memories, setting yourself up for financial success in the New Year is equally important. Create a holiday spending budget and figure out what you can honestly afford to spend, and be firm about it. There's no need to buy over-the-top presents to impress family and friends. Many of us feel uncomfortable when we are given unnecessarily lavish gifts. And no one likes the person who upstages everyone else's gifts by going over the limit.
 
Having a gift-giving limit is especially important when it comes to buying gifts for our children. Ironically this is where most of us have trouble holding back. Spoiling your kids every Christmas can result in just that...spoiled kids! You don't need to give your child every single item on their list. Setting a spending limit in your holiday budget or making them choose which gifts they want the most will help them learn how to choose, prioritize and appreciate the things they want most in life. Your children and finances will both thank you later on.
 
At the same time, being financially-wise does not mean being the Christmas Grinch! You may cringe at the thought of spending your money on a frivolous, commercial holiday. However recognize that the holiday season may mean a lot to your family and friends. For the sake of your relationships, make it a priority to celebrate, even if it means sacrificing something for yourself.
 
You can avoid anxiety from spending money over the holidays by preparing early. Set aside money each month in your budget for your holiday budget and keep an eye out for sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Communicate openly with loved ones to come with holiday plans everyone is comfortable with.
 
‎Thoughtful, simple gifts are usually the most appreciated no matter what the cost. So‎ don't feel obligated to match others' gifts dollar for dollar. Especially with family who know what you can and can't afford.  Sometimes your older sibling or parents just want to treat you, without expecting you to possibly reciprocate the gift in dollar amount.  If you have a friend who constantly gives lavish gifts, just return with a reasonable and thoughtful gift you can afford. Hopefully he or she gets the idea and eventually tones it down.
 
Holidays don't need to be a nightmare on credit! Your true loved ones will enjoy your presence with them over your presents.

Topics: Holidays and Money

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