As we enter the final quarter of 2018, we can already find rows of holiday cheer adjacent to fall décor in stores. It is all fun and festive until you open your credit card and bank statements and then the holiday financial blues come crashing in as you contemplate how to cover the unbudgeted and extra spending. Your best bet is to avoid it entirely by using these tips.

Save Wisely, Spend Happily

If you know you are going to spend, it is best to plan for it. The ideal scenario is to be putting funds aside throughout the year to fund your holiday fun and giving. If you haven’t started yet, it is not too late. Your allocated funds for the holidays just may need to be a little more modest than someone who spent the year stashing money away. Start by looking at how much money you make and how much you currently spend. Determine how much of your discretionary income you want to prioritize for funding your holiday fun. In addition, consider where you spend that you can re-allocate to your holiday spending plan. Even the most festive holiday spirit can turn to the holiday financial blues if you haven’t made sure you know how to pay for your generosity.

Pay Attention to Timing

Are you counting on a holiday bonus or other influx of cash to cover your holiday giving and spending? Do you spend on a credit card anticipating these funds to come in? Unless your bonus is guaranteed (which isn’t likely), this is gambling with your household cash flow. Be sure you are aware of the timing on when your funds will be available and spend only after those funds are received.

Opt Out of Exchanging Gifts

Often, we are left unsure of what to gift to the people we care about because they buy what they need and many times what they want for themselves. The holiday financial blues are even more intense when you’ve spent on gifts that family doesn’t show excitement about receiving. Rather than spending money on stuff that you are unsure others will want (and be on the receiving end of this situation), celebrate by spending quality time. If not purchasing a gift makes you feel like a Grinch, think about what you would enjoy more…a gift that you don’t really want, or being able to enjoy your family without the financial pressure and stress of gift giving.

Focus on Experience, Not Expense

For those that you do want to shower with gifts during the holidays, consider personal experiences you can create and provide. For that child in your life, why not gift them an outing at the zoo, local science center or other creative experience? While many kids will ask for the cool new toy, often those toys are played with a few times and then forgotten. The holiday financial blues can last year-round when you realize the money you spent is sitting on shelf collecting dust. But the memories that are created on a fun adventure will last forever and can be enjoyed as gifts for both kids and adults.

The Take Away to Avoid Holiday Financial Blues

The holidays are synonymous with parties, laughter and cherished memories with friends and family. Unfortunately for many, they are also stressful when your generosity exceeds your financial capacity. Avoid the holiday financial blues by getting creative and focusing on quality time rather than expense to make this holiday season truly joyful.

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