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I have a great contributed post for you today on reducing financial stress around the holidays. It's for informational purposes only, so please consult a financial professional before making any money decisions. Got it?
Stress is a common health issue for many Americans; however, it is most prevalent around the holiday season. A 2015 survey noted that well over half of three different age groups polled feel additional stress once the holidays begin, and that the greatest source of stress comes from financial worries.
Being able to afford gifts for the family, buying holiday meals, and the cost of accommodating house guests often stretches budgets beyond their limits. If you are feeling the pinch of the impending holiday, there are several ways you can reduce financial stress and enjoy all the season has to offer.
You might feel compelled to buy gifts for your extended family or their children for Christmas, especially if they are staying with you over the holiday. If you lack extra cash, you might turn to your credit cards to buy these gifts. However, doing so may create the added stress of paying the balance when it comes due.
To avoid stacking up additional credit card debt over the holidays, look to alternate means of gift giving for your guests. Treat them to a movie night at your home, complete with popcorn and other homemade treats, or opt for a secret Santa gift exchange, where you buy a gift for one member of the family. This can ease stress and help you avoid overusing your credit cards during the holiday.
Holiday bargains can be found almost everywhere, if you know where to look for them. From deals in your local newspaper and circulars to Black Friday deal apps, you can save a considerable amount of money on gifts, entertaining, and travel. Hunting down these deals can be well worth your time, especially if you are expecting a large crowd at your home over the season.
If you want to take the best advantage of holiday deals, start by planning ahead. Make a point to buy a Sunday paper, when most stores advertise money-saving deals. Clip coupons, keep a sales calendar to remind yourself when deals end, and download apps that alert you when gifts you flag become available at a discounted price at online stores.
While Black Friday is well known for its price-slashing deals, you do not have to wait until this unofficial holiday to start your shopping. In fact, spreading out your shopping weeks or even months ahead can ease the financial pinch you might otherwise feel once December arrives. Shopping other holiday or post-holiday sales over the summer and early fall can help you stockpile gifts, which can be especially helpful when you have a large family.
Cutting costs in your household budget may ease financial strain and help you add a bit of cash to your Christmas cache. Finding ways to lower your utility bills, reducing your cable or satellite dish channel package, and asking your local insurance agent whether you qualify for any discounts for your home or auto premiums can all lower monthly bills. While you might have to make a few sacrifices, you may find that cutting these costs are helpful for the holidays and beyond.
Trying to please others, buying lavish gifts, and throwing expensive parties can all put you over your holiday budget before you realize it. While you might believe much is expected of you, it is important that you remain realistic about what you can afford. Spending time together, playing games, and going on affordable local outings can be just as fun as expensive alternatives, so set a sensible budget ahead of time and stick to it.
The holidays are a common cause of stress for many people, and might be feeling the pinch as well. However, hunting for deals, cutting costs in your household budget, and resisting the urge to overspend can help you enjoy the season without worrying about how to pay for it.