How to Avoid Overspending on Gifts this Holiday Season

Looking for ways to spend a little less on holiday shopping this year? You’re not alone. According to PR Newswire, “US consumers plan to spend an average of $985 on holiday-related items in 2023, less than the $1,006 reported in 2022.” People are planning to spend a bit more on gifts – but less on everything else that comes with the season.

Whether or not you have a long gift list, holiday spending does have a way of adding up. This season, be aware of the many things whose cost can creep up on a person this time of year:

  • Expensive gifts
  • Tickets to live events
  • Gas and transportation
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Baking and cooking ingredients
  • Donations to organizations
  • Christmas trees, wreaths or other holiday decorations

1. Budget for the Holiday Season

Best way to avoid that personal finance hangover in January? Create a budget! If you went a bit overboard last year, where did you overspend? Maybe it’s simply a matter of saying yes to less expensive invitations. If you enjoy bringing nice gifts to parties throughout the season, determine how much less you want to spend on similar items.

What your holiday budget will do is help you set spending boundaries and stick to them. Take a look at any financial statements you have from last December and January. What were the big ticket items on them? Everyone likes to be spontaneous, but being more conscientious of how your dollars get spent will help keep you out of debt this year.

2. Focus on Free & Fun Holiday Events

If you’re like many people who socialize a lot later in the year, all those meals, drinks, and tickets to shows can cost you. That’s why it’s sometimes better on the budget to focus on activities and events that won’t pressure the group to overspend.

Big and small towns alike tend to have a lot going on this time of year. And one of the best ways to have fun without spending a lot is to find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods. If you haven’t done so already, send emails and contact groups on social media to find out what’s on their calendar. From business associations to community centers to places of worship, they will all be doing something.

Here are some inexpensive events to look for:

  • Outdoor ice skating
  • Tree lighting ceremonies
  • Holiday plays
  • Kids’ activities
  • Holiday choruses

It’s easy to feel pressure to say yes to everything, especially if you want to spend time with friends and family. By taking charge of this tradition, you get to set the ticket price.

3. Give the Gift of Flavor: Have a Cookie Swap

You don’t have to be a chef to have a little fun in the kitchen. A cookie swap – like any other type of swap – is essentially an excuse to get people together and share something delicious with one another. In this case, have your friends bring a batch of gingerbread or their favorite homemade holiday cookies. Encourage your guests to share recipes and stories to go with them.

Cooking can also be a great way to unwind and take an edge off the holiday stress. The best part? Everyone gets to take home a plate of tasty, assorted baked goods.

4. Let Currency Exchanges (CCEAs) Help You Manage Your Personal Finances

Feeling the need to protect yourself financially? Ensure your bills get paid on time, and avoid spending cash you don’t have. To do so, set up electronic bill payment at a local Community Currency Exchange (CCEA) so you don’t have to worry about due dates every month. In addition, consider using a prepaid debit card that only lets you make purchases using money you have.

For other savvy personal finance tips, visit CCEA online, or stop by the location closest to you.

Holiday cookies on a plate.

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