Financing your holidays

protection of capitalWith the winter holiday season gearing up and soon moving into full swing, are you concerned about the financial impact of celebrating this year? With the economy still at a slow crawl, you may find that the extra expenses of entertaining, traveling and gift giving are enough to jeopardize your carefully crafted budget. But rather than waiting until January when the bills start rolling in, how about taking a stand now and challenging yourself to stay within your financial plan.

If you are a Millennial yourself – or even the parent of a Millennial – you’ve likely been saddled with high debt already. Student loans and credit card balances combined with high under- or unemployment rates are hitting your generation particularly hard. According to a recent poll by the credit-reporting company Experian, Millennials are having a hard time paying off their loans and wary about taking on further debt. So rather than adding more liabilities – whatever your generation – here are four steps to take this holiday season:

 Make the holiday celebrations this year more basic. Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about your decision to simplify. They’re likely in the same boat as you and will welcome the change.

 Create gifts yourself rather than ‘shop ’till you drop.’ You’ll generate more meaningful presents and save some of your hard-earned cash in the process. Giving a part of you to those you care about creates good feelings all around.

Shift to more casual entertaining. Make it an element of the party to have each guest bring their favorite dish. You’ll cut down on your expenses as well as have some new flavors at your table.

Spend time not money. It’s the intangibles, like quality time together, that make the holidays special. A family gathering at home or a fun outing at the park with loved ones can be just as festive as an expensive social event.

As you focus more on your connections than on your perceptions you’ll find that you enjoy the holidays this year in a deeper, more profound way. Make an effort to see special friends you’ve been missing and enjoy their company – without the added stress of buying a present for them. The gift you give of yourself is the most meaningful anyone can receive. Happy Holidays!

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