How to Avoid Holiday Hangover

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You know what a hangover is, right? It’s that groggy, headache, nauseous feeling you get when you’ve consumed too much alcohol.  Some of us experience similar symptoms when we’ve consumed too much of the holidays.  That consumption often involves too much spending.  As credit card bills start rolling in, so does a headache, nausea, and grogginess.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Before the holidays start, plan to avoid the holiday hangover.  Here are a few tips to help keep you sober.

Tip #1 – Make a list

 This is the easiest thing to do.  Start telling family and friends now that you will not buy a gift for everyone.  If you want to avoid the holiday hangover, you need to set realistic expectations for your gift giving.  Limit your list to include immediate family and maybe a few extended family members and friends.

Everyone does not have to be on your list!

Tip #2 – Set a spending Cap

 A spending cap is designed to stop you from overspending. Visit the Resource link for a FREE Spending Cap guide to help you with your list.  Once you set your limits, you can withdraw cash and take with you while you’re shopping.  You can transfer the spending amount to a prepaid card to use while shopping so you only spend up to that amount.  My favorite tip is to put the amount you want to spend per person on a gift card and give gift cards for Christmas.  This tip is sure to stop you from overspending!

Tip # 3 – Setup a group gift exchange

The holidays often involve spending time with family and friends.  Use this as an opportunity to cut down on your holiday expenses.  Rather than bring a gift for everyone, host a gift exchange.  Some call it, White Elephant or Dirty Santa, whatever you call it, this type of exchange requires you to only buy one gift and exchange with one other person at the party.  In my family, we only buy gifts for the little ones and we set a spending cap of $5-10.  The adults come together for a family style dinner and we enjoy watching the kiddos open their gifts.  This has cut our shopping budgets significantly!

Tip #4 – Think about your life goals

Christmas comes once a year, yet we often find ourselves paying for it most of the following year.  Before you spend a single penny on gifts this year, think about your life goals.  Will buying these gifts help or hinder you from your bigger goals?  Will buying expensive gifts help you reach your goal of homeownership?  Will using credit cards to buy “guilt gifts” help you save for retirement?

While we all want to share in the Christmas spirit, let us remember one thing; Santa Claus didn’t give away gifts until he was settled into retirement.  If your financial future is shaky, perhaps this Christmas you should be less like Santa and more like Scrooge!

For more tips I learned from Santa, look for my next post, “Last minute gift ideas that won’t break the bank.”