Budgeting for the holidays

Winter is coming, and for many people, that means a whole lot of holidays. Lots of holidays traditionally require gifts, which can be tough to afford for even the most financially stable fellow. Here are some tips to make the most out of your winter — and your wallet.


Plan ahead

Before anything, make a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for. Will you buy gifts for your professors? Your coworkers? All your friends? Extended family? Knowing how many people you plan to gift to is important to not overspend your money. Honestly, you shouldn’t spend more than the amount of one paycheck on the holidays, and even that number can be a bit too high. It can be easier to build with smaller limits for each person, adding those numbers up and reducing your limits as needed.


Set multiple limits

Breaking up your giftee list into categories is a good place to start breaking up your bucks. You can set a limit for professors from $10 – $20; for siblings, parents and grandparents from $15 – $25; and nieces and nephews at $20 – $25. You can appropriately adjust these suggested ranges; after all, everyone’s priorities are different. A helpful tip regarding close friends and significant others is not to spend more on a present than you would in a singular hang out, meaning if $50 is your date limit for taking out your S.O., then don’t spend more than that. If you have a lot of people to shop for, you can definitely lower these ranges to suit your needs.


Talk it out

Another good way to avoid overspending, especially in terms of friends, is to discuss how much you are spending on each other, or if you even want to do gifts at all. Many friend groups or workplaces do gift exchanges that greatly reduce the number of gifts you need to purchase while still making sure the holiday spirit is in the air, and if that tradition isn’t already established, you can always suggest it. You can do similar things in terms of family, especially if your family members are the same age as you or older. 


Go homemade

If your bank account just isn’t saying “yes” to any of this, no worries. You can easily look up free tutorials to make everyone an individualized craft that they can use year-round, such as crocheted items, hand-sewn stuffed animals or art pieces. Buying materials for these might cost a little, but it’s a one-time sum rather than several mid-price gifts that are sure to add up. Moreover, you can make your own gift sets by mass-buying products most people like, such as tea or candy. Plus, if you can get access to free or inexpensive product samples — perfume, lotions, face masks — you can throw those in to really flesh out the gift basket concept. Really, this is an area where you have the most wiggle room, and if you put effort into your gifts, people are sure to notice and appreciate it. 


Photo: M. Poole

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