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Festive Finances Unwrapped: Mastering Your Holiday Money Game
You blinked and summer was over. And now we move into leaves changing, cooler weather, and the kids back in school. And just like that, we move from one thing to the next: The upcoming holiday season! But amidst all the tidings of comfort and joy, there’s one thing that can cast a shadow over all of the festivities: financial stress and playing the money game.
With the doom and gloom of the economy, inflation rising, and interest rates at an all-time high – many people are thinking about the holidays differently, at least from a financial standpoint. I don’t want your holiday spirit to be dampened by money woes and worries! And I don’t want you to think you can’t live your best life during the holiday season because cash flow looks a little different.
So, with a dash of strategic planning, a sprinkle of savvy saving, and a generous helping of mindful spending, I want to help you navigate the holiday season without breaking the bank and learning how to play the money game along the way.
Winning the Holiday Money Game: 8 Tips for Joyful and Financially Responsible Celebrations
1. Jingle All the Way, but with a Budget:
I will be honest. The word “budget” never felt good to me. It’s not quite as exciting as unwrapping all those holiday gifts. As a Money Mindset Coach, the word budget feels like a limit. But that’s just perspective. If you don’t like the word budget, let’s think of this as an allotted amount you are setting aside for a purpose because this is going to be a foundational piece of a financially stress-free pie.
Start by listing all your anticipated holiday expenses – gifts, decorations, travel, parties, and add in a little extra for contingency. Assign a realistic dollar amount to each category and stick to it! This will be your north star, helping you prioritize spending while preventing impulse buys that can haunt your bank account long after the tinsel is packed away. You can jingle all the way while playing the festive money game.
2. Deck the Halls with DIY:
Festive decorations are wonderful, but they don’t have to drain your bank account. Embrace your creative side and craft your own decorations! Gather pine cones, create paper snowflakes, or repurpose items from around your home. And if you’re unsure about how to play this aspect of the money game, there are so many YouTube Videos, Pinterest Pins, and DIY Bloggers who have generously shared their how-tos. You can find a tutorial for anything these days.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll also infuse your space with a unique, personal touch that store-bought decor can’t replicate. You can make it even more fun by inviting friends and family to join in on the DIY Décor!
3. Santa’s Little Saver Elves:
One of my favorite things to do is save for the holidays well in advance so the money game isn’t too overwhelming. Christmas in July is a real thing to me in that regard. There are plenty of holidays that take place well in advance of December. And with those holidays come holiday sales. If you happen to find a good deal early, snag it and save it until gift-giving time.
And remember, online shopping makes it easier than ever to find the best deals but don’t stop at the first digital storefront you visit. Use comparison websites and apps to scout out the best prices before making a purchase. Remember, a few minutes of research can lead to substantial savings – and those savings can fund other aspects of your holiday plans.
If buying all those gifts in advance and storing them in your hall closet isn’t an option, try this:
Set up a dedicated savings account specifically for holiday expenses and contribute to it regularly throughout the year if that makes it a little easier. Even if you must start now, it’s never too late to save for the money game. A little bit each week can add up to a sleigh-load of financial peace by the time the holiday season arrives. It’s like giving yourself a gift of financial foresight!
4. Pot-Luck Partying:
Holiday parties and gatherings are a hallmark of the season, but it’s easy to get carried away with excessive spending on menu items and ingredients. Plan your dishes in advance, make a shopping list, and stick to it. Avoid overbuying perishable items that might go to waste and consider opting for store-brand products, which can be just as delicious as the name brands.
An even better idea? Host a potluck. Have your guests RSVP with a dish or drink to share. The more, the merrier! And you won’t have to do all of the cooking. It’s a win/win for all! YES! You can plan a holiday gathering and not break the bank in the process.
5. A Wreath of Resourcefulness:
Gift-giving is fun. But it doesn’t always have to be something store-bought. For the people in your life who seem to have everything, buying them another knick-knack just seems unnecessary. Perhaps giving personalized gifts, creating homemade treats, or offering the gift of quality time together may be better! Remember, it’s the thought that counts – and a thoughtful gesture doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.
Another way to get resourceful, and one of my personal favorite holiday gifting hacks, is to use all of those Credit Card Points you have racked up over the year. You can buy gift cards and give them as gifts or use the gift cards yourself to stores where you would make purchases for others. You’d be surprised at just how much this keeps your holiday cash spending to a minimum and this will really help you unlock the money game.
6. Give Yourself Gifts too, Responsibly:
It’s tempting to treat yourself during the holiday season, and you absolutely should! You deserve it! But consider doing so in moderation. And whatever you plan to spend on your gifts to yourself should go into the budget as well.
Whether it’s a spa day, a new book, or that gadget you’ve had your eye on – you are allowed to have nice things. By planning and budgeting for these treats in advance, you can avoid post-holiday regret when your bank statement arrives.
7. Happy Holiday Travels:
Traveling to see loved ones is a non-negotiable for many. We can find ways to save here too. First, flexibility is your friend. Consider adjusting your travel dates, as flights and accommodations tend to be more affordable during off-peak times. Compare prices diligently using travel websites and apps. You want to make sure you are getting the best deals on flights and lodging.
If you are bringing presents with you, consider shipping them directly to your location when possible. It will save on packing costs. Packing light not only simplifies your journey but also helps you avoid hefty holiday baggage fees and the airport money game. Additionally, plan your activities in advance, taking advantage of discounted online tickets and bundled attraction passes. Lastly, make the most of travel rewards and loyalty programs. If you have them, it’s a great time to use them.
8. Spread the Financial Love:
As you bask in the warmth of the holiday spirit, remember that giving extends beyond material gifts. Consider donating to charitable causes that are near and dear to your heart. Maybe volunteering at a local organization that needs some help during the holiday season would be more up your alley. Either way, acts of kindness and giving back can bring a sense of fulfillment that transcends any amount of money spent. You will feel good to know you have helped make someone’s holiday a little better. This is the season of giving after all.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be synonymous with financial stress. With a sprinkle of strategic planning, a dash of mindful spending, and a generous helping of creativity, you can navigate the festivities with financial ease. Prepping in advance helps a great deal. It allows you to wrap up those worries and embrace the joy of the season knowing that your holiday memories will be even more magical when you’ve also unwrapped the gift of financial peace.
Cheers to a happy, stress-free, and budget-friendly holiday season!
About the Author
Name: Dr. Tracy Timberlake
Professional Title: Business and Money Mindset Coach
Bio: Dr. Tracy Timberlake is a Multi-Award Winning Money Mindset Business Coach, Speaker, and Online Influencer. In the last 7 years, she has built not one, but two multi-million dollar businesses and teaches her clients to do the same by focusing on methods that help them break out of the middle-class money mentality and elevate to a place of conscious wealth creation. Recipient of the prestigious Miami 40 Under 40, she has spoken on the TEDx stage, and been featured on NBC, CBS, Entrepreneur Magazine, etc. It’s no wonder her clients appropriately titled her “The Entrepreneur Whisperer”. To date, over 15,000 people have taken her online courses, workshops, and training.
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