How to reduce financial pressure during the holidays

The holidays are often jam-packed with the three Fs: food, family, and financial stress.

However, pressure to spend money during the holiday season doesn’t have to become all-consuming. Here are four ways you can reduce your financial stress.

5 ways to reduce financial pressure during the holidays

1. Create a budget

Take time to get yourself organized. Make a list of who you’re buying gifts for and what you’re purchasing. You’ll want to set a spending limit for each individual, and make sure that the gifts you’re planning to buy fit into it. This will help you stay on track with your spending and avoid buying superfluous items. You can also keep a list of sales/coupons so you can maximize your spending power. Lastly, you should budget for any food, charity donations, or other incidentals. The more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be in control of your spending.

2. Be open with loved ones

Be open with your friends and family regarding how much you’re comfortable spending. By having an honest conversation, you’ll be able to relieve yourself of the guilt and stress you might experience in purchasing a gift outside your budget. You may want to consider doing something like a ‘Secret Santa’ exchange where you can draw names and only have to purchase for one person, or set a limit on how many family members or friends you need to buy gifts for.

3. Emphasize self care

While you’re probably focused on buying gifts for others, don’t forget to take some time to focus on yourself. Remember to exercise, get enough rest, and do whatever you need to do to feel relaxed in order to actually enjoy the season.

4. Make a little extra money

Taking on a side gig or picking up extra hours at work can give you a little more financial wiggle room around the holidays. You could also try to sell items you don’t use anymore online or at a consignment shop. Any supplemental income can help ease the financial burden that comes along with the holiday season.

5. Spend only what you can

You should never go into debt to buy holiday gifts. With so much to buy, you might be tempted to skip a bill or two now and pay them later once your holiday spending is done. However, this is a bad financial decision, as payment history is the most important factor that helps determine your credit score. Pay your bills first, and focus on gifts second. If you’re currently in debt, you should pay off any outstanding balances before you spend more. Try some of the best ways to pay off debt, such as the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods, so you can enjoy your holiday shopping.