If your holiday season is more likely to inspire panic than good tidings of cheer, you are certainly not alone. For many people, especially seniors living on a fixed income, the financial challenges of the holiday season are overwhelming. The average Thanksgiving meal costs $50, and that expense is followed by a succession of even greater expenses, including average holiday shopping costs in excess of $800. If you need to save money while still inspiring some holiday cheer this season, follow these tips.
Don’t be Fooled by Phony Sales
It’s tempting to join the Black Friday rush. After all, “buy one get one” of anything can seem like a good deal. But these sales capitalize on a glitch in our psychology, making us think we’re getting a deal when we’re really getting something we otherwise would never have purchased! Make a list of what you absolutely need, then stick with it. Remember, it’s not a bargain if the only effect of spending the money is having more junk lying around your home.
Just as it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding Black Friday, it’s tempting to join the crowd and go out shopping in the interest of preserving the holiday spirit. Some of the best deals, though, are online. Get some extra sleep. Save your energy and do your shopping during Cyber Monday instead. Still convinced you need to shop in person? Save the pandemonium for Super Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas. Sales are typically better then, and the crowds aren’t nearly as large—or aggressive.
Get Some Financial Relief
Can’t seem to find room in your budget to spread some holiday cheer? Sometimes, despite your best budgeting intentions, the numbers just don’t work. If your income is so tiny that you are considering canceling the holidays, it’s time to explore other options. After all, if you’re already retired, these financial woes are unlikely to vanish on their own. A reverse mortgage is a viable alternative to a traditional home equity loan, and can give you reliable income and relief from debt. Talk to a financial advisor to determine if this option is right for you.
No matter how much excitement your present produces when the recipient unwraps it, most gifts are long forgotten by the dawn of the new year. Don’t waste your money on something that will soon be forgotten. Instead, consider giving the gift of a new experience. Dance lessons, symphony tickets, and other events are often surprisingly cheap, especially if you get a discount on a site such as Groupon. These gifts remind your loved ones of your generosity for months, help you avoid long checkout lines, and can save you money.
Pare Down Your List
Most of us have at least a few people on our list to whom we are essentially giving junk. Whether it’s the teacher to whom you give that old bag of unused makeup freebies or the neighbors you feel obligated to make a pie for, consider removing people who aren’t close friends or family from your list. They probably won’t notice when you send a card instead, and you will free up some financial space to spend your hard-earned cash on the people you love the most.
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Annie Doisy is a reverse mortgage expert who helps seniors enhance their lives by taking advantage of the equity in their homes. Annie writes for ReverseMortgages.com where her goal is to educate consumers on a wide range of topics around mortgages and other financial services.