"This is a very difficult time of the year to stick to a budget, and the reasons are numerous and complex," says Leslie Greenman, a financial advisor and author of the new book Dating Our Money: A Women's Guide to Confidence with Money & Men. "One of the biggest reasons is that women tend to be givers and pleasers by nature. We want to buy great gifts for friends and family members. We want to get the best-looking decorations for the house. We convince ourselves it's OK to overspend because Christmas only comes once a year."
Be realistic about your holiday budget. Look at your family's financial situation and realize how much debt you'll be dealing with in the new year. If your financial picture doesn't look good, consider making some gifts, regifting unused gift cards and otherwise scaling back your shopping list. Shop with cash only, and don't stray from your list or your budget.
"According to a Consumer Reports poll, holiday shoppers will spend approximately 19 hours shopping and three hours standing in checkout lines this holiday season. Aren't there much better ways we could be spending our time? Rather than throw down cash to buy the video games your son wants, spend a day with him doing the things he loves to do. Suggest to your best friend an afternoon meeting for coffee and going to a movie. Or treat your parents to a home-cooked meal and some Christmas carols performed by their grandkids. You can also take this a step further and make it even more gratifying for everyone involved: Suggest to your loved ones that the time you spend together be used to volunteer for a local charity — a great way to enjoy the true spirit of the season!"
The average person will spend $130 on herself while holiday shopping, according to the National Retail Federation's 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. When you're making it OK for yourself to do a lot of spending, it can be difficult not to stray off your list and buy a couple of things for yourself. Instead of buying a new outfit for your next holiday party, evaluate what's in your closet already and pick up some cheap accessories for a quick and inexpensive upgrade. You also can hold a clothing swap with your friends, trading outfits and getting a new look without spending anything at all.
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