It’s the time of year that’s full of joy, happiness, and gift-giving. That all sounds expensive. Let me ask you a question, how’s your holiday budget? It seems everywhere we turn during the month of December we’re being invited to a party, a dinner, or a holiday get-together. With blended families, in-laws, friends, and co-workers the cost of attending holiday festivities can quickly add up and wreck havoc on our holiday budget.
I used to be the “Yes” girl. I would always RSVP for dinner and be the first to put my name into the hat for a Secret Santa gift exchange, but not anymore. I came to realize that (selfishly) I would rather do other things with my money – like spend it on myself. After all, I am buying my first home. Is that terrible?
Why spend $25 on a gift-exchange with co-workers you barely talk to at the water cooler or sit through a grueling three-hour dinner with old friends whom you no longer have anything in common with – other than the occasional #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram? Last year I decided to drop the mic and say no to it all. This year I’m doing it again.
If you’re not up for spending a boatload of cash this year during the holidays use these tips to survive the festivities and have fun without going over your holiday budget.
Find alternative (cheaper) activities
Being invited to a festivity above your price range doesn’t mean you can’t go, it just means you need to get creative. If you’re invited to an outing where the cost is beyond what you would like to spend you have two options, the first option is to make alternate plans. Suggest a cheaper activity, it can be just as fun and you won’t have to stress out when the bill comes at the end of the night.
Tell the truth – you’re broke
The second option is, to be honest. Maybe you aren’t comfortable using the word broke, but tell your friends and family that you truly can’t afford it. Talking about money isn’t as taboo as it used to be and a lot of people have a lot of expenses during this time of year. If you’re honest about the cost your friends and family should understand.
Offer your time in lieu of gifts
If your holiday budget doesn’t include buying gifts for everyone on your list, then I say don’t do it. There are several other ways to celebrate that don’t involve shopping, spending money, and racking up credit card debt. Give your time. If you have family members or friends who have children, offer an afternoon of babysitting so they can get out of the house. That gift is priceless – or so my parents say.
Turn down invitations – it’s OK
If you’re invited to a holiday party and you truly don’t want to go then RSVP no, it’s OK and the host should understand. Tell the host you’re sorry but can’t make it due to conflicting schedules. This time of the year is busy and sometimes it’s impossible to make it to every event. You truly could be double booked or your conflicting schedule means binge-watching Netflix in your Christmas pajamas. Either way, if you don’t want to go then I say do what makes you happy. After all, it is Christmas.