It’s officially autumn, which means the holiday season is almost here. If you’re like many people, you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, so even talking about holiday plans is likely causing heightened financial stress.
I spoke with Ilyce R. Glink to understand if it has to be this way. Ilyce is an award-winning syndicated columnist, whose work is published weekly in more than 40 newspapers. She is the author of 14 books on money and real estate and is currently the CEO of Best Money Moves, a financial wellness technology and coaching company. Best Money Moves is an example of one of the many innovative apps available in SAP App Center that complement the SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite.
I wanted to find out if it was possible to get through all of the holidays – from Halloween through New Year’s – without adding to credit card debt or running through whatever savings you have stocked away. Doing so could certainly reduce overall stress levels and help you enjoy the season more! Below are a few of Ilyce’s favorite seasonal money-saving tips, which she’s collected from her astute readers and radio show listeners (and used herself). Follow these, and your winter holidays will be merry, indeed:
- Know how much you spend during the holidays – on everything. It’s easy to forget to add in all of the costs of a holiday. You might remember to list your gifts, but not wrapping paper and postage. You might look at the cost of buying food, but not the alcohol, flowers, or other decorations. But not setting up a specific budget for your holiday spending is one way to increase your financial stress. So, be honest. Set a specific spending goal for your total holiday spending this year. Make sure you add up not just the costs of entertaining and gifts, but wrapping paper, postage, holiday decorations, and other expenses that sometimes slip through the cracks. Be honest and then figure out where to cut back and how to simply cut out some expenses.
- Start a costume exchange at your school. What happens at the end of Halloween? Costumes that are in good shape go into a drawer until next year – except your child has by then outgrown that costume and you’re on the hook for a new one. What if all parents brought costumes to school for a costume exchange? Anyone who wants a costume would be able to pick one up for free, saving time and money.
- Try a pot-luck holiday dinner. You might like making dinner for everyone, but you can entertain on a budget by allowing your guests to bring a favorite dish in a pre-assigned category, like appetizers, side dish or even beverages. Choose a main course that’s festive but affordable, like turkey, and allow everyone to share the cost.
- If you’re going out for dinner, drink water. Whether you order alcohol or soft drinks, the cost adds up. One of my radio show listeners discovered that beverages can account for as much as 30 percent of the final bill, plus tax and tip. If you must imbibe, pre-partying is an easy way to cut back on the cost of meals out.
- Cut back on your gift giving – to everyone! Who doesn’t like to wake up to a pile of gifts? But for some, especially those who don’t have a lot of extra cash, giving gifts can be a way to mask the true state of their financial affairs. Spend a lot of money and no one knows how you’re doing (except your credit card company). But what if you limited your gift giving this year? What would happen is you decided to give your children just one gift each instead of a pile? What if you made a donation to charity in everyone’s name? Made your own cards? Sent e-cards instead of paper cards? How much money would you save?
- Replace purchased gifts with homemade treats. As my husband and I have gotten older, we greatly appreciate gifts of time and attention. We love when our older son gives us a special piece of pottery he has made, or when our younger son comes over to cook for us (a recent pizza night was a lot of fun). When I was in my salad days as a freelance journalist, I would make infused oils and vinegars and hundreds of holiday cookies and hand them out with homemade cards. Years later, when I could afford to buy treats, I found out that my editors found my cookies to be far more memorable.
- Spend time – it’s the best gift of all. The busier you are, the more your loved ones value the time over material gifts. A day spent running errands for your mother, grandmother, or another family member who isn’t mobile costs you nothing but time, but is more valuable than anything you can buy in a store.
If you want to hear more financial well-being tips from Ilyce, attend a free webinar on November 5 at 10am PST / 1pm EST. Follow this link and click on the “Nov 2019 Ready For The Holidays? Transform Your Employees’ Financial Stress Into Well-Being” session to register.