With the holiday season just about over, many consumers find themselves struggling with feelings of stress. After all, many of us spend a great deal of money to make the holidays special for us and our families (this seems especially urgent for consumers with children).
But do you have to spend a great deal of money for a good holiday season? No matter what holiday you celebrate, chances are that this time of year comes with many expenses, from buying gifts to purchasing extra (and special) food for entertaining.
How Much Do You Spend During the Holiday Season?
According to research, the average American consumer will spend about $861 this year. This represents an increase from last year, and is quite a leap from the years 2008 to 2009, when the financial crisis scared a number consumers into spending less.
In Canada, though, the expected spending is $1,500 per person. However, it’s worth noting that the American number only includes gifts, while the Canadian number includes gifts, travel, entertaining, and more. If you add up what you will spend on the holidays, including travel and entertaining, there is a good chance that your spending could be on par with the average Canadian.
When you think about how much extra you spend each holiday season, it becomes obvious why so many people feel stressed out during the holiday season. Even when you consider that Black Friday this year was a bit of a bust, the reality is that, even so, many of us overspend during the holidays. We feel stressed while we’re spending, and then we feel even more stressed as a new year begins and we wonder how we will pay off the debts.
Ideas for Reducing Holiday Expenses
Matt Giovanisci points out in the video that there is no need to get caught up in gift giving at all. He doesn’t get into the gift giving thing; instead he makes it a point to do volunteer work and have a fun, stress-free time with his family. However, you don’t need to go full-on no gifts to save money and have a good holiday season. You can even throw a holiday party without breaking the bank, if you are creative and committed to frugality.
Here are some ideas for reducing holiday expenses:
- Buy frugal gifts: There are a number of low-cost, thoughtful gift ideas out there, from purchases to homemade items.
- Change your gift policy: This year, my family is changing its gift policy, since the extended family is growing rapidly. You can draw names out of a hat, give family gifts, or put a dollar limit on gifts. There are a number of ways to give without breaking the bank.
- Be creative with holiday entertaining: Have a potluck party, a BYOB party, or even a party that just includes finger foods. There’s no reason to get crazy with the entertaining and spend a lot.
- Change your kids’ expectations: Start out by being real with your kids about gift expectations. In my case, this is easy because my husband and I have never done Santa Claus with our son. Talk to your kids about expectations, and overall family goals so that you don’t get caught up in the presents, whether they are Christmas presents, Hanukkah presents, or some other gifts.
- Give to the less fortunate: Believe it or not, a little charity can go a long way during the holiday season. You can reduce stress, get out of yourself a little bit, and ultimately spend less when you remember what’s really important in life. There are lots of ways to give to those in need during the holidays.
- Plan your holiday shopping: One of the best ways to save is to plan your holiday shopping. You can shop year-round, or just save up year round. Set aside a small amount of money each month, and by the time the holidays arrive, you’ll have what you need — without the stress. You can also shop year-round, and save money, since Black Friday deals aren’t always the best. You could save hundreds of dollars a year by planning ahead.
By taking a deep breath and a step back, you can change the way you think about the holiday season, and possibly even save money.