Wanting to spoil your friends and loved ones during the holidays is nice, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of you being able to pay your own bills. When you’re on a fixed income, you have to be very careful about how much you spend during the holidays.
- Think about what you can cut back on. Often, we have to sacrifice in one area to spend in another. If you want to spend money on gifts, events, travel or special foods during the holidays, you may need to cut back in other areas of your spending.
- Avoid using credit cards. Too many people turn to credit cards to help them make holiday purchases. In a 2015 survey, MagnifyMoney found that the average American they sampled added $986 in debt during the holidays. While a credit card can certainly cover a gap in time while you wait to receive income, it can also create a situation in which you’re overspending and at the end of the month find yourself unable to pay off the balance. It’s best to simply steer clear of using credit cards and limit yourself to what you know you can afford to buy based on assets you have on hand.
- Consider low- or no-cost gifts and activities. It may sound trite, but it truly is the thought that counts. Spending time with your friends and loved ones and making an effort to wish them a happy holiday is a loving act that will be appreciated—even if it doesn’t cost you a dime. If you still feel like you want to give gifts, consider using your natural talents at sewing, drawing, knitting, construction, carving, writing, composing, etc., and turn those into a gift. Or host a get-together at your house that takes some of the stress of entertaining off the others in your circle.
If the holiday season sets you back financially, then it’s not a happy holiday after all. Take care of yourself and make sure your own needs are met; then do what you can for others.