Christmas

Parents get swept up in the holiday frenzy and empty out their wallets without even thinking about it. Then at the end of the month, they check their bank statements to see how all of the money relegated for bills went to presents, food and decorations. Luckily, there are plenty of clever ways that you can make the season more affordable without dampening the celebration for your kids.

Host A Potluck Instead Of A Feast…

When you’re hosting a family reunion or a big party, you can spend lots of money without even realizing it. Instead of taking on the role of shopper, chef and server, make the event a potluck and ask all of the attendees to bring at least one dish with them.

One essential tip to help you host the perfect potluck is to find out about any dietary restrictions and allergies ahead of time and then let all of your guests in on this crucial information. Thinking ahead will make sure that everyone in attendance has more than one dish to pile on top of their plate.

Encourage guests to bring a variety of dishes and to get creative about the recipes they use — you don’t want everyone to show up with a bowl of Caesar salad. You can avoid this scenario by designating guests with specific courses like appetizers, entrees, side dishes or desserts. Or you can ask people to volunteer for different cuisines and cooking styles so that your table becomes an impressive buffet.

Cut Down Your Gift List…

Extreme generosity can eat at your savings, especially if you’re getting presents for relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbors. Whittle down the list to focus on immediate family members and give heartfelt cards to everyone else.

When it comes to immediate family, you should still look at the number of presents you are putting under the tree. Surveys have shown that parents overspend on holiday gifts for their kids and often use money from important accounts — some dip into their emergency funds and retirement savings to get more boxes under the tree. This practice can cause a lot of unnecessary financial stress on the household and accidentally teach kids that the number of gifts they receive matters more than the affection behind them.

To discourage selfish behavior and to save money, let your kids know ahead of time that their expectations should be practical. Mix in their bought gifts with homemade presents and the promise of fun activities like movie marathons. Families with preteens and teenagers can try to cut down on spending by asking everyone to join in on Secret Santa — this allows everyone to buy one amazing gift for the person whose name they picked out of a hat.

Mark Down A Budget…

A lot of parents will go shopping without checking their accounts first, which allows them to overspend and then realize their mistakes later. This is why making a budget is one of the best ways to save money for the holidays — knowing just how much you can allocate to items like gifts and decorations ahead of time will help you set limits and keep your finances on track.

People who don’t budget properly and overspend can run into trouble if something unexpected happens. Expensive incidents like the car stalling or the water heater breaking down in the middle of a cold snap will need attention right away. Parents that feel trapped in this situation can try to get a cash advance online without having to go to traditional financial institutions, which will have slower services and irregular hours during the season. Anyone who is interested in this convenient solution should go to MoneyKey.com for more information on how to apply — this way you can get the online cash advance you need in a hurry and get the problem fixed as soon as possible. Ideally, your monthly budget should leave room for sudden expenses, even for the holiday season. Avoid going overboard with your spending and try to leave yourself a financial safety-net just in case.

The most important thing to remember is that the holidays are about love and happiness, not about price-tags. It’s a lesson you will want to pass down to your kids so that they appreciate every present they receive and understand that a caring family is better than anything wrapped in a box.