Feeling Overwhelmed Financially at the Holidays? And a Challenge

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.There’s so much going on during the holiday season that it is common to feel overwhelmed financially and otherwise. It is a shame, really, that we have to feel this way during a time when we should be concentrating on family and friends.

Clients pay late (sometimes even after the new year) for various reasons, from needing to get gifts for their regular employees to being on vacation at the time invoices arrive in their inbox.

The cost of gifts for your own family, as well as small gifts for important clients, can also add stress at this time. As can the cost of throwing the annual Yule or Christmas dinner.

Utilities, groceries, and other daily needs also need to be taken into consideration.

But how to avoid this stress?

Well, for this year I suggest taking some time for yourself. Try to cut costs where possible. Relax and remember you will be getting that money, even if it is late.

I also suggest you set up a plan for next year that will eliminate most of the financial stress you feel at this time of year. If you follow the plan in the coming year, the next holiday season wont seem as hard.

Create a Budget

A budget will help you to get through the holidays without over spending. Decide how much you’ll spend on gifts for each person on your list, as well as things such as:

  • Secret Santa gifts
  • Gifts and food for your childrens’ holiday parties
  • Craft items needed for gift making and decorating
  • Wrapping and decorating needs
  • Your holiday menu needs
  • The cost of pictures with Santa
  • The clothes needed for pictures
  • Batteries

Whatever you can think of. Set spending limits and stick to them.

Write Your List(s)

Once a budget has been created, make out your list. Some things to consider:

  • What holiday items did you realize you wanted or needed for next year as you were decorating?
  • How many Christmas cards will you need, and what will it cost for postage?
  • What might people like for gifts? (This is just a general note item, you may find something entirely different for some people. Record favorite colors, scents, etc.)
  • How many batteries, and what sizes, will you need? (This includes extra batteries in case gifts needing them are bought.)
  • What will you serve for the holiday meal next year?
  • Do you want to set aside money for craft fairs? For lunches out during shopping days?
  • How about for charities?
  • Will you need wrapping paper, gift bags or boxes, tags and ribbons, or tissue paper?

Set Aside Money

Decide on a certain amount from each payment you receive that will be set aside for the holiday season. Or you can do this per week or month. Whatever is most comfortable for you.

For example, if you set aside $50.00 a month from January to November you’ll have $550.00 for your holiday needs including gifts and cards.

This money can be placed in an interest earning account that you will start adding to again after the holidays.

(Note: It is okay to use the money in this account any time, as long as it is for good deals on gifts and other holiday items you need. By not limiting yourself as to when the money can be used, you might save a great deal.)

And More Money

If you can swing it, try adding up all your other expenses for one month:

  • Electricity, water and sewer, oil, rent
  • Satellite TV, Netflix or Hulu, house phone and cell phone services, internet (Maybe you don’t even need the house phone any longer.)
  • Groceries, personal hygiene needs, household cleaning supplies
  • Lunch money for the kiddos

Divide the total by 11 and set aside that amount each month. Then you are pretty much home free, if clients decide to wait to pay after the holidays.

This money should go into an account of its own, and you should put a little more than you think will be needed into it.

Look for Deals Year Round

In-store or online, if you can find deals grab them. During the after Christmas sales, you can save a lot of money. Look at your budget and your list, and see what you can do. I like to buy holiday cards, decorations, craft supplies, and even gifts at this time of year.

Then there are other sales, clearance and otherwise, throughout the year. If you can get a deal on something you know you’ll need, or a gift you want to give someone, by all means do so. The money saved can be kept in the account for unexpected expenses at the holidays. Such as when someone knocks on your door selling wreaths.

Thrift stores and yard sales may also net a few items, such as good quality holiday dresses, or a movie you can’t find in the store. Or even the punch bowl you so desperately need for your Christmas get-together.

Make What You Can

Not everyone likes to make gifts and decorations, and that is fine. But if you do, then buying craft and baking needs on sale (when possible) and spending some time making these items might save you some money as well.

Many people would love to receive a basket of homemade ornaments, or a tin of their favorite brownies.

What to do with the Money You don’t Spend

Is there really such a thing? Seriously though, if you have extra money in the account when the holidays are over you can roll it over for next year or begin your after Christmas shopping on December 26th.

Challenge

Here is my challenge to you, for 2016. (Not including the And More Money section.) Set your budget, make your lists, and get all the shopping done throughout the year. If you come in under budget, and save the money until the day after your holiday festivities are complete, then you get to do something special for yourself or your family. Get yourself that latte, or buy that book no one got you for Yule. Return after Christmas and let us know how the challenge went for you.

How do you get through the holiday season without stressing? What financial advice do you have for those who need it? Let us know in the comments below or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always answer comments and emails.

Happy holidays! Whatever they may be for you 🙂

Shannon L. Buck

About Shannon L. Buck

Hello. My name is Shannon, and I'm a single mother of two young adult daughters, and Memay to one precious Little Man. I work as a writer from my home in Orono, Maine, and as a Front Desk Agent at an inn. Writing is my life, second only to my daughters. I enjoy writing nonfiction, as well as fiction in a number of genres. At some point, I would like to travel. It would be a true writing adventure.