Each year, people around the world create lists and set budgets for their holiday spending. Even more so, people worry about the financial stress of checking off every box on their list. All readily know the financial expectations of the holiday season. So amid the gift-giving, travel, and everything that goes along with the holidays, how are people expected to balance saving for retirement and holiday spending?

While the answer may seem obvious to some, cutting holiday spending overall is not an option for others. Whether it be tradition, wanting to belong, or simply a fear of being seen negatively by family and friends, holiday spending is a must. However, that does not mean retirement or emergency funds need to be touched. 

Use these tips to control your holiday spending AND save for retirement:

  • Budget – Create a list of people whom you plan to buy for with a set amount of what you plan to spend. *Remember that the dollar amount is less significant than the idea of giving so don’t be too hard on yourself here.
  • Extra Costs – This can be a budget’s kryptonite: budgeting down to the last dollar without adding in necessities, such as gift bags, tissue paper, mailing costs, etc. 
  • Research – If you have ideas of what you want to get for each person, this step will be a bit easier. If not, hopefully, you’ll have an easy discovery. Just search for prices and find the best deal!
  • Use Cash – As odd as it may seem, it is more difficult to spend cash. Something about the tangibility of it makes our brain second guess ourselves; not to mention, it is easy to see a wad of cash in your hand dwindle. Use some money, and you will be better equipped to stay in line with your budget.
  • Resist – You know how when you check out at the grocery store, they have candy, soda, and magazines? This is deliberate. Called the “impulse” purchase, companies put items that are likely to be bought without much thought by the register. Stick to your list and leave.
  • Alternative options – Gifts do not need to be extremely big, expensive, or name-brand to be meaningful. There are times when homemade gifts can be even more touching. Forgo gift giving and have a potluck instead; make handmade gifts, such as crafts, baked goods, or music playlists; or encourage your family to take part in Secret Santa, where each individual is given one name to purchase for, rather than everyone buying for everyone.