Spend for the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank

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(NewsUSA) - After scaling back celebrations last year, people are ready to spend money on gifts, vacations, decorations and entertaining for the 2021 holiday season. But the pressure is on with news of inflation and ongoing supply chain issues. So finding everything on your wish list may be harder to find, and more expensive if you do find them.

According to Bankrate.com, the average American shopper will spend $998 on gifts and other holiday expenses. "If you have a large family or like to throw holiday parties, you could possibly double or triple that number," says Cheryl Costa, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. "Fortunately, there are ways to enjoy plenty of holiday fun, and find gifts for everyone on your list, without breaking the bank."

Costa recommends taking these steps to avoid starting the New Year with a sleigh full of bills:

Budget ahead. Subtract your "must pay" expenses from your income. Then decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend on various holiday expenses, such as:

  • Decorations
  • Party supplies and food
  • Cards
  • Gifts
  • Travel

Do the math. If you go over budget in one category, cut back in another. Perhaps a family ski trip takes priority over hosting the neighbors. Or have a potluck party and invite everyone to bring a dish.

Trim the gift list. For work friends, book groups and extended family, suggest a Secret Santa, where everyone in the group is assigned someone at random. This allows each person to buy one gift, instead of buying gifts for everyone.

Get a seasonal job. Most retail stores seek extra help at night and on weekends during the holiday season. Flexibility is the norm, if your schedule permits. You can enjoy a seasonal second career and get an employee discount on your own purchases.

Curb the card. Avoid racking up high credit-card bills for holiday spending. Keep your budget in mind when you pull out the plastic for online purchases, and don't forget to look for free shipping.

A CFP® professional can help you manage your money with short-term and long-term plans to make the most of your money now and in the future. For more budgeting ideas during the holidays, check out LetsMakeAPlan.org.