Many seniors live on a reduced, fixed income and find it necessary to budget in order to make sure their money is spent in a wise manner. One of the ways their budget can get upended is through an emergency. Another way is during the holidays when there is a tendency to overspend. Even when they know the holiday season is on its way, there is still a strong pull to buy decorations and presents for the next several months.
We have come up with a way that will help seniors prepare themselves for the holidays without overspending.
Plan your budget ahead of time.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it is really easy to overspend over the holidays. Whether you are buying gifts, preparing for holiday meals, or entertaining guests, there never seems to be enough money to go around. That is, unless you plan your budget ahead of time.
For years I used to have a certain amount of money withdrawn from my paycheck and automatically allotted to certain bank accounts. One of those accounts was a Christmas fund that grew throughout the year and gave me the money I needed to spend during the holidays. After several years of embarrassment because I came up short and couldn’t even buy presents for my immediate family, I need I had to do things differently. That’s when I found out that I could get an account at my bank.
I realize this is October as I’m writing this, but at least start putting aside a little bit of money now for this year and continue saving through the next year. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. It’s surprising how much you can save and make sure it is in an interest bearing account. Many financial institutions have a Christmas account so that you can sock away a bit of money. If they don’t have one specifically for the holidays – I know they used to – then just get a regular interest-bearing account.
Purchase gifts throughout the year.
My mother and I did this for decades. She was a master at purchasing Christmas and birthday gifts during the year. She and Dad enjoyed traveling; so many times we got gifts from various areas around the United States as well as the occasional gift when they went overseas to visit my brother who was in the Air Force.
One such gift I was sure to get was a set of salt and pepper from where Mom and Dad vacationed. The only state in the United States that they did not visit was Hawaii. They did travel to Germany, England and Korea, various places my brother was stationed, and I got salt and pepper shakers from all three. Mom knew I started collecting salt and pepper shakers when I was very young and just used that theme to always give me something special.
As you can see the actual present was not expensive at all, sometimes less than a dollar at that time. What was important was that Mom thought of me throughout the year no matter when she was or what was going on around her.
Send inexpensive holiday cards
It really doesn’t matter how much the Christmas or holiday cards cost, it is the fact that you took time to choose the cards, address the envelope, and stamp and send the card. Now, I realize it can get expensive as far as buying stamps are concerned, so here are a couple of ideas:
- Buy cards at the end of the current season to use for the next holiday. I do this every year and keep the cards in the boxes that contain my other holiday decorations. Left over Christmas and other holiday cards are dirt-cheap after the holidays. Quickly check out the sales in the couple of days after Christmas and you will find many opportunities to save on cards and other holiday items.
- Add stamps to your budget for the next year Purchase stamps during the year making sure you save the number needed for the holidays Hand deliver cards to coworkers, neighbors, or local family friends. You will save postage as well as deliver them a personal face-to-face holiday greeting.
- You could even consider handing making your own Christmas cards, which is what my mother did for several years. She was an artist as well as an elementary school teacher, and really enjoyed creating simple cards for the holidays.
I hope these tips give you ideas on what you can do this year and even more importantly in future years so that you can enjoy the holidays even if you live on a limited income. Try to hand make as much as you can if you are artistic in any medium, do a little at a time throughout the year, or at least set aside a few dollars a month if you can so that, instead of feeling embarrassed or depressed, you can have fun during the holidays.
It’s often not how much you spend or where you spend it, it’s the thought that counts!