With the holidays approaching, now’s the time to get your finances in order. You’re not alone if you feel stressed about money regularly. The American Psychological Association (APA) found that 72 percent of adults feel stressed about money at least some of the time, and 22 percent experience extreme financial stress. By preparing now, you’ll approach the holidays with a stronger sense of financial well-being and less stress.
Here are 4 ways to avoid debt:
1. Set a spending plan for the holidays
Between Halloween and New Years, it’s easy to justify unnecessary spending. Having a budget and plan in place will prevent impulse buying. Start by looking at last year’s gift list and expenses to brainstorm ways to cut costs this time around. Get a jump start on your shopping by taking advantage of end-of-season sales or get creative with DIY presents. And don’t forget, putting money away now will save you debt stress come December.
2. Eat at home
With the high temperatures and longer days, summer typically is a season where we overspend on dining. And for the first time ever, Americans spend more in restaurants than on groceries. Cooler weather and cozy evenings are perfect for cooking at home. By taking the time to meal plan, not only will you save money but you will discover new seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. Bring out the slow cookers and crock pots to make big meals that can freeze for leftovers.
3. Winterize your home
Before temperatures drop, try weatherproofing to improve the efficiency of your home and save money on utility bills. By sealing holes, gaps, cracks and leaks around doorways and window frames, you’ll control airflow and improve insulation. Remember to close the curtains at night to avoid feeling a chill from the windows.
4. Get outside
Make the most of the brisk air and crisp leaves by getting outdoors. Consider pausing your gym membership to sign up for a 5k or an intramural sports team. Pledge to have a “no-spend” weekend and explore festive activities like farmer’s markets, turkey trots, pumpkin patches, apple picking or harvest festivals.