Reducing holiday financial stress


Suzi McGarvey, former Extension Associate; Reviewed by Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor, Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension

With the holidays approaching, many people begin to feel the financial stress of the season. You can lessen the anxiety you may feel during this time of the year by planning purchases in advance. Consider the following tips for a more enjoyable holiday season:

  • Make a list of the people you will need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on each person.
  • Determine how much in total you plan to spend, and if this figure seems too high, make adjustments in your planned purchases.
  • Try to avoid the temptation of paying for all of your purchases with a credit card when you do not have the money to pay it in total. Avoid thinking that you’ll just “pay it off later.” If you cannot afford a particular item, look for something similar but less expensive or search for an alternative present. Set a limit and try to stick to it.
  • Be wary of store promotions. Offers of “buy now and pay later” sometimes have hidden clauses that allow interest to accrue until your first payment. Read through all paperwork before signing it, and do not be afraid to ask the store clerk questions regarding the promotion. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be creative with your gifts. Try making homemade items or giving personalized gifts that offer your services for things such as an evening of free babysitting.
  • A donation to a local charity may make more of a lasting impression than a store-bought gift. Use money that you would spend on friends and family to make one larger donation to one specific charity or give smaller donations to each family member’s favorite charity. Call local food pantries, shelters and charities to find out what they need during the busy holiday season. (Review tips on giving to charities so that you know how to put your donation to the best use.)
  • If you’re hosting a family dinner, ask others to bring a dish.
  • Pay attention to return policies for items you purchased….

For additional helpful tips, view the full version of this article at


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