The season to be spending is upon us. If it's not gifts, it's a party outfit. If it's not a party outfit, it's eleventy billion social occasions that involve buying dinner and expensive drinks. Add to that: trips to visit family, that perfect winter coat you always seem to need but never seem to have, excessive gas bills and general frolicking and merriment. November 28 through January 1 is always an expensive time to be a human person functioning in society. But your wallet doesn't need to suffer just because you're constantly giving and imbibing. Here are some tips for making it through the festive season's social calendar on a budget.
1.Set a budget for the entire season and hide the rest
Before Thanksgiving, take a look at your finances. How much can you afford to spend over the next month or so? That amount stays in your checking account. The rest goes into your savings and DOES NOT GET TOUCHED. Once you've determined how much you have to spend, by all means, go wild with it.
2. Put the credit cards down and back away slowly
Your credit card is your worst enemy during the holidays. It's easy to say "I'll just put this expensive dinner on my card and worry about it in January," but you don't want to be waking up on January first with anything other than a hangover. Starting the new year in debt is never fun.
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3. Don't be afraid to be a tightass at the bar
This might come as news to you, but you don't actually have to buy a round of $15 cocktails for your ten friends. Only agree to rounds when it's wine or beer and leave spirits out of it. Also remember that you can have three vodka sodas, or as many beers, for the price of one cocktail, so be savvy with your drink choices.
4. Secret Santa is your BFF
You can't buy every single person a present at Christmas, as much as you wish you could. Suggest and organize a Secret Santa (or Kris Kringle, White Elephant, Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, Pollyanna, or whatever your region calls it) and set a spending limit for gifts. That way, you buy one gift. One!
5. Remember that it's about time spent, not dollars spent
You probably want a new outfit, and you probably want to order the $35 porterhouse, and you definitely want to buy those new $200 Nike's for your brother. But if you can't afford it, it's not worth putting yourself in debt. The outfits you have already are amazing, the salad is probably better for you than the steak, and your brother would appreciate a thoughtful, sentimental $20 gift even more than the flashy one anyway.