Avoiding A “Financial Hangover” During The Holidays Avoiding A “Financial Hangover” During The Holidays Let’s face it, the end of the year is full of fun, but can also put a lot of stress on your finances. Thanksgiving travel, holiday parties, gifts for friends and family members, New Year’s Eve plans – it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and festivities, but then find yourself feeling a “financial hangover” by time January rolls around. Here are some tips for making the most of your enjoyment during the holiday season without putting yourself into debt. 1 Adjust Your Budget & Stick To It Even if you plan to be frugal, there’s pretty much no way around the fact that the holiday months will cost you more than other months of the year. But you can prepare yourself for the inflated costs during the holidays by planning ahead. Rather than scrambling to buy last-minute gifts or holiday outfit and charging it all to your credit cards, consider planning for the holidays ahead of time. Consider listing out who you need to buy gifts for and set a spending limit. Think about whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or any holiday dinner parties and how much you should budget for food and alcohol. Fancy New Year’s Eve plans? Estimate your costs for that too. Once you’ve estimated these various costs, add them into your budget and make sure you stick to your limits. Consider setting extra money aside each month in the time leading up to the holidays, so that when it comes time to spend, you already have extra cash on hand. Avoid blowing your gift budget and giving yourself a financial headache by taking time to start shopping sooner rather than later – this will allow you to comparison shop, keep an eye out for sales, and give you the time to find less expensive but meaningful gifts 2 Put Down The Plastic Holiday shopping usually means racking up your credit cards – which is where the headache of the January “financial” hangover comes in. However, if you budget and save money ahead of time to use towards holiday gifts and indulgences, you should be able to avoid using credit cards altogether. If you must use credit cards, try to choose one that gives you rewards points or cash back, and make sure you are able to pay more than the minimum each month so you don’t end up paying tons in interest as you pay off the balance. 3 Be Smart About Gifting One of the biggest expenses during the holidays are gifts. Common mistakes that lead to overspending are not planning what to buy ahead, leaving shopping to the last minute (which can lead to abandoning your plan in favor of buying whatever’s convenient), and buying something expensive from a big brand name rather than something personal and thoughtful. Avoid blowing your gift budget and giving yourself a financial headache by taking time to start shopping sooner rather than later – this will allow you to comparison shop, keep an eye out for sales, and give you the time to find less expensive but meaningful gifts, rather than just caving in and buying something expensive at the last second. Bonus: you’ll avoid a real headache by getting your shopping out of the way early! 4 Have a Holiday Trip, Not a Guilt Trip Don’t let your vacation put you into debt. If planning to travel during the holidays – whether taking a tropical vacation or visiting family – there are measures you can take to avoid over-spending. The holidays are almost always more expensive when it comes to hotel and airfare rates, so your best bet for saving money is to book sooner rather than later. This will allow you time to shop around online for the best prices and keep an eye out for sales. You may also want to consider renting a home or apartment on Airbnb, rather than stay in a hotel. Set a budget for things like activities and dining out and make sure you stick to it. 5 Say No Avoid unexpected expenses during the holiday season by knowing your limits and staying within them. If a holiday party or activity comes up that will put you over-budget, you may just have to say no. Know your financial limits, and avoid social activities or purchases that your budget doesn’t allow for; there will still be plenty of fun to be had during the holidays and you’ll thank yourself later! The holidays are meant to be enjoyable and a time for indulgence – and while you may putting on a few extra pounds or having a few late nights may be unavoidable, a financial hangover is. All it takes to avoid the holiday financial hangover is some awareness and planning ahead. This will allow you to start January fresh and ready to tackle your financial resolutions, rather than playing catch up with your credit card bills. Leslie Tayne Leslie H. Tayne has more than 15 years' experience in the practice area of consumer and business financial debt-related services. Speaker, Author of Life & Debt, Attorney and Founder of the Tayne Law Group, P.C., Leslie is working towards reshaping the debt industry by offering real, proven solutions to help her clients get back on the road to financial freedom.