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The holidays are a time of surplus here in America. There is an overabundance of food, gifts, drinks, and cheer, which for the most part, are what makes the holiday season many people‚Äôs favorite time of year. However, with this overflow of “holiday cheer” comes stress, mainly in the form of financial stress. In fact, in 2016, the average American went more than $1,000 into debt just during the holidays alone

Unfortunately, spreading holiday cheer can cause a lot more damage than it’s worth and may, in some cases, be the tipping point for a person to file personal bankruptcy in Naples. To avoid getting into a financial rut this holiday season, we’ve compiled a guide that will help you to bypass going into debt this season while still enjoying this time of year with your friends, family, and loved ones. 

Create a Holiday Budget

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Advertising companies know just the right buzzwords, images, and “click-bait” to use to make us “buy, buy, buy,” all the things; avoid falling into this trap by creating a holiday budget. To make a holiday budget this year and actually stick to it, here are some tips from Money Tips:

  • Know where you stand- Before the onslaught of holidays comes knocking at your door, schedule time to review your current financial situation.
  • Work backward – Based on your current finances, work backward to discover how much money you will have for holiday expenses.
  • Separate into categories – Having one lump sum to use towards the holidays can cause confusion and may result in you spending more money than you had intended to. A common way to separate expenses is by:
    • Gifts (friends, family, work)
    • Travel and Accommodations
    • Parties (food, outfits, drinks, decorations)
    • Donations 

There are many apps, like Mint, that can help you create a budget, or if you prefer, you can use a spreadsheet to create your budget. 

Price Shop

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably are aware of all of the deals that roll out around this time, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, just as states, Black Friday is getting so ridiculous that some stores start offering deals at the beginning of November. To make sure that you are getting the best price for the gifts or products you are searching for, consider using an app like CamelCamelCamel (an Amazon price tracking app) and shop online, rather than in the store for the best Black Friday deals. 

Get Rewards From Your Credit Card

As personal bankruptcy attorneys in Naples, one of the most common forms of debt we see is personal credit cards. If you can, avoid using credit to buy gifts this year. If you plan on using your credit card for gifts or travel, make sure that you are using a card that will give you rewards for holiday spending*. 

*This doesn’t mean you should run out and purchase a credit card for the holidays. Credit cards should only be used for emergencies or to build credit. 

Consider Homemade or Acts of Service

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While giving homemade gifts may not be a viable choice for everyone, if you can create a gift that a loved one will appreciate, that you’ll enjoy making and that will save you some money, then do it. It can be something as simple as writing a heartfelt letter to your mother or as extravagant as Pinterest project. If making something homemade is out of the question, and you’re strapped for cash this season, give the gift of service. Something as seemingly simple as offering to babysit or washing your aunt’s car can go a lot farther than a pair of socks you bought in a discount bin. 

Don’t’ Wait Until The Last Minute

Apart from the stress that waiting until the last minute to buy your gifts can cause, you may actually end up spending more money or purchasing items you didn’t need if you wait too long. Waiting until it’s almost too late can induce “panic shopping” and may cause you to splurge an item that doesn’t fit into your carefully crafted budget. Many people try to shop ahead of time to avoid falling victim to the holiday gimmicks that make us all want to buy “more, more, more.” 

The holidays should be a time spent with family and loved ones, not worrying about how much money you have to spend. Stay out of personal bankruptcy in Naples this year, by making a plan and sticking to it. 

Happy Holidays from your Naples bankruptcy attorneys, Miller, Hollander, & Jeda!