Man Vs Holiday Spending

Do you know how you’re going to pay for all those holiday gifts?
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Do you want my advice?
Well…you’re going to get it anyway.

Here’s some tips to end the cycle of feeling broke for the holidays.


I don’t know about you, but a few years ago I grew very tired of cutting big bucks out of my December paychecks to pay for a gift, and then spent the next week stressing over how broke I was.
Are you tired of doing this? Or worse…are you tired of starting the new year with debt?
Let’s end the cycle. Right now.

Use a Christmas Club.

This one might feel silly if you haven’t been doing it all year long already, but it’s time to stop pretending that Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) doesn’t fall on the exact same day year after year. Seriously. You pay your rent/mortgage on the same day each month, so maybe it’s time to view your savings the same way.
If you didn’t save this year, break the cycle RIGHT NOW. Look at your budget and decide how much you can save per week for next year. Starting January 1st, if you saved $10 each week (or $1.42 per day), you would have $500+ to buy gifts with!
Saving for the holidays is Man Vs Cash’s biggest secret to a stress-free season. I personally save $100 a month so I have enough to buy gifts, participate in office parties, donate to charity, and be prepared for the dozens of sudden “holiday experience taxes” that I encounter. That’s what works for me. Do what works for you.

Decide how much you will spend.

If you are reading this before Thanksgiving, you basically have no excuse on why you can’t do this. Your child’s favorite toy is $50? That’s $10 a week between right now and Christmas. Add up the cost, work it into your budget, and make it happen.
Figure out how much you intend to spend on gifts, dinners, parties, and charity. Put that amount aside, and do not exceed it. You should not change your current lifestyle, miss a bill payment, or cut corners financially to put a gift in the hands of someone. You may want that new TV, but do you want the memory that Grandmother didn’t buy her medicine last week to give it to you?

Skip Black Friday.

The sales are seldom that great, anyway. The door-buster deals are almost always “made for black Friday” items with a different model number than its “identical” counterpart. They often come with cheaper components, weaker warranties, and diminished quality. That’s why you can buy it so cheaply, because it’s made even cheaper.
Also, stores often run amazing sales to get you into the door where you will likely buy many items at FULL price. Some stores are even guilty of raising their prices in the winter, and “discounting” it with a shiny 25% off sign… to regular price.
My tip? If there is an item you are wanting to buy, start tracking prices in the warmer months. You’ll find, almost every time, that it is even cheaper at another point of the year.

Clearance is your friend.

When a store is struggling to sell a product, or is changing seasons (getting rid of summer BBQ’s in exchange for fall power equipment), they will start placing things on clearance. That’s when I strike.
The shirt I am wearing right now was bought at Target for $4. Regular price (three months earlier) was $13. Why? It’s a short sleeve polo shirt and this is November. I bought many shirts, shorts, and swimming trunks at 75% off to enjoy in the spring. By the time I get to wear my new clothes, it’s time to hit the stores for jackets, sweaters, thermals, and more.
Once you get into the groove of buying things off season, it becomes ridiculously easy to stock up on gifts for loved ones at completely unbeatable prices. Small appliances, lawn mowers, clothes, games, toys, decorations…you name it. Seriously.

Do not use the credit card.

If you find yourself standing in line to buy a Tickle Me Elmo (#throwback), would you be willing to walk to your financial institution and sign a loan contract with interest and payment terms to take Elmo home? Every time you swipe your credit card, you are essentially doing just that… signing a loan to pay for that item.
Just pay cash.

End Toy Fever.

If your kids believe in Santa, help them write a wish list that is realistic, financially. If they don’t do Santa, set financial boundaries with them. You still give your child the option to choose, but they also learn the lesson that life does have limits.
Likewise, don’t cave to the pressure to buy the “latest and greatest”.

Don’t let “consumerism” pressure you.

This is the season of giving, right? Give your loved ones a memory. Invite them to play a board game. Watch a movie. Build a puzzle. A cherished gift for your loved ones doesn’t always have to come with a Black Friday sign above it.

Use a Christmas Club.

Yes, I am saying it again. It’s time to stop pretending that Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) doesn’t fall on the exact same day year after year. Seriously. You pay your rent/mortgage on the same day each month, so maybe it’s time to view your savings the same way.
If you didn’t save this year, break the cycle RIGHT NOW. Look at your budget and decide how much you can save per week for next year. Starting January 1st, if you saved $10 each week (or $1.42 per day), you would have $500+ to buy gifts with!
Saving for the holidays is Man Vs Cash’s biggest secret to a stress-free season.

Happy Holidays!


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