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Staying Financially Fit During the Holidays

Staying Financially Fit During the Holidays

It’s the end of the year and the holidays are in full swing. Holidays usually signal the time of year when you get more time off of work (for most) and get to see friends and family you may not get to see as often. People are generally in a good mood as they prepare for holiday traditions and celebrations, as well as gifts for loved ones. Planning for the holidays can be exciting, but at the same time it can be very expensive.

The larger your circle of family and friends, the more you probably spend around the holidays. Once gifts, decorations and ingredients for those specialty dishes are included, the overall holiday “price tag” can be pretty hefty. Let’s dive into five tips that will help you be a thrifty shopper and leave you financially fit for 2014.

1) Make a list. Write down holiday related items that you must purchase, include decorations and gifts. Also be sure to include items for yourself on the list. Next to each item write down the known or expected cost of the item. Take it with you when you go shopping and have it next to you when shopping online. The list will give you a much more accurate picture of how much you plan to spend and it will help you stay within the amount you allotted for holiday related items. Your allotted amount or holiday budget should be no more than 20% of your take-home pay for that specific month, unless you saved up beforehand. The list will also be a great way to watch out for deals. If you know how much the item normally costs then you know a really good deal when you see it.

2) Shop now. The best option to cut costs on holiday items is to shop all year round. You can take your time and take advantage of the best deals as you see them. A great time to purchase decorations is directly after a holiday. Stores will mark down items by up to 80% in order to get rid of their inventory. Purchase timeless objects and items that fit into any themes you have planned for the following year. However, if you still have a lot to buy as the holidays draw near tools, wedding dresses and wedding items as well as toys are some of the best items to purchase in November and December.

3) Take advantage of free shipping. Close to the holiday season some online stores offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery by the holiday. You must complete your orders by specific dates in order to be…


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certain they will arrive in time. Online outlets that offer free shipping include Amazon, PayPal, ShopRunner etc. Check your preferred shopping sites and see what they offer. Make sure to note any deadlines for the free shipping so you can get your order in on time.

4) Gift a service. Instead of going into a store and purchasing items, gift a promise to provide a service for free. Offer to babysit for an evening or weekend to give the parents some adult only time. Do you have friends with furry or feathered companions? Offer to pet sit when they head out of town. I had a friend pet sit my parrot for a few days when I went out of town and it was a fabulous gift. I knew she was with someone I trusted and was being given the utmost care, I left instructions of course. Think about what services your friend or family would truly value. If you know a friend is dying to get out of town and you can’t send her (for most of us that would use up our entire holiday budget), offer to babysit, house sit, etc. You can design a fancy gift certificate on the computer and present it in a specialty envelope or holiday bag. Get creative with it.

5) Don’t use credit cards. If you’re running low on cash or there are just a few items that you really feel you need, but are outside of your budget then you may be highly tempted to use a credit card. It’s so easy and convenient to just swipe that little rectangular piece of plastic. However, resist! Don’t use your credit card! Remember it’s the gift and kindness that counts, not the price tag. Use the money and the resources that you have available to you in order to create and purchase gifts. Be creative.

Avoid the feelings of guilt and the debt that accompanies overspending during the holidays. These tips will allow you to be a smart and thrifty shopper while getting everything you need for the holidays. Avoid accumulating more debt and be well prepared to start 2014 with your finances intact.


Maria James has expertise with designing income management, debt management, and wealth protocols to help you keep more money in your pocket. Graduate school allowed her to further develop strategic planning and scientific analytical thinking and apply those methods to money management. The Money Scientist was born. Maria hosts webinars, speaks, blogs, and writes articles to educate and empower you about money. You can reach her at