2011 Holiday Season: Planning for a Smooth December
It’s December–a month filled with joy, family, and fun. But it’s also a month associated with overspending and overindulging. If you find yourself full of regret when January rolls around, use these three planning strategies to get this month under control: Plan your budget: Shopping for a large family? Set a dollar amount per person and stick to it. Use cash if you have to; once it’s gone, you’re done. Plan your budget for holiday parties, family dinners and shipping gifts as well. No expense should be a surprise, since Christmas comes the same time every year! Remember to plan for these Top Hidden Costs of the Holiday Season.
Plan your activities: The calendar can quickly fill up with office festivities, community programs and other obligations. Use your time sparingly and leave room for family downtime and simple activities that start family traditions. Instead of expensive outings, find pleasure in simple, low-cost activities like baking, watching a holiday DVD together, walking the neighborhood to view lights and decorations, board game night, and more. Ask your friends and neighbors to share their family traditions and get new ideas for your own.
Plan to give: Focusing your time and attention on others helps your heart as well as your budget. As a family, donate time to the local food bank or animal shelter. Help your elderly neighbors with their outdoor upkeep like leaf raking and snow shoveling. Bake and deliver treats to friends and teachers. If you are able, donate money or goods to sponsor needy families during the holidays. Involve your family in choosing and completing volunteer jobs. Look for local volunteer opportunities in your area with Volunteer Match.
Work your plan this December and you’ll be rewarded with less stress along with lower spending. After enjoying the holiday celebrations, take some time in January to discuss with your family what they liked and would like to do again next year.