Over the holidays, we often host family and friends, so we might eat out more, order extra take-out, shop in bulk for family meals, travel out of town, and buy lots of presents. As a consumer, you might already be anxious about the holiday bulge from all those yummy Christmas treats. You might also be concerned about being broke in the New Year. Luckily, you can avoid the seeming eventuality by planning your holidays and exercising discipline.
Make a Christmas budget
Before the holiday season kicks in, decide how much you can comfortably spend. You can start saving for the Christmas season as early as June, or even earlier. Many families plan for plane tickets and hotels, but they don’t necessarily think to save up for non-travelling expenses. You can put some cash aside for gifts, for a seasonal restaurant fund, or for other holiday-related expenses.
Do your Christmas shopping online
Shops and stores have become skilled at Christmas displays. They are laid out in strategically to encourage impulse purchases. Stores also have calming music and nostalgic scents designed to open your heart and your wallet. Stores even use smells to manipulate your spending! It might be subtle cinnamon to remind you of grandma’s cookies, or soothing lavender and Christmas carols.
You can avoid many of these sensory cues by shopping online. While websites are equally capable of luring you with related items, coupons, and tempting add-ons that are sold separately, they are mostly visual or occasionally aural. They offer less tactile temptation than physical stores, which taunt your nose, ears, taste, and touch. Plus, websites don’t have mirrored dressing rooms.
Use loyalty cards for your purchases
While debit cards offer direct access to your cash and credit cards have cumulative interest rates, loyalty cards can lower your spending. Their usage is based on prior purchases, so you don’t have to use additional money when you cash in your rewards. Loyalty cards don’t attract interest, so you won’t build up debt by using them.
Many loyalty cards have chipped PIN technology and are VISA or MasterCard enabled, so you can use them for online payments. These transactions offer more usage points, so it pays to leave the credit card at home and redeem loyalty points instead.
Tweak your Christmas traditions
Family heirlooms and practices are important, but they can also be expensive. Maybe your family always goes to a certain restaurant, or watches a certain show. If you’re on a budget, you can still honour your family’s habits, but in a more affordable way. You could livestream the show online, or prepare that favoured Christmas dish at home as a family activity.
For more information on responsible money management techniques, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.