As the founder of the financial lifestyle movement Girlfriend’s, Budget!, Elle Hall-Coleman BA’08 is an experienced money coach and personal finance blogger. The Dallas native lives with her partner and two pups, and can usually be found somewhere between the produce and dairy sections of the grocery store with budget envelopes in hand. This holiday season, Hall-Coleman shares practical tips to avoid overspending and to keep your budget intact.
- Decide on a set holiday budget.
The time to start setting aside money for the holidays is right now. Take an affordable amount from each paycheck to put toward gifts, food, decorations and whatever else your heart desires (within reason).
- Make a list of people for whom you want to buy gifts.
I’m sure your sister’s friend’s cousin won’t be mad if you decide not to purchase a gift for them this year. Instead, make a list of those closest to you and choose an amount you’re willing to spend on each person based on your pre-determined budget.
- Try potlucks for large family dinners.
If you love food the way I do, then you know there will be loads of delicious cornbread dressing, mac and cheese, greens, mashed potatoes and sweet potato pie around for the holidays. But all that cooking can get expensive, especially if you’re having a large gathering. In this case, try asking attendees to bring their best dish to share. This way you don’t have to do all of the shopping (money-saver) or all of the cooking (time-saver) and will be able to spend time with your loved ones.
- Secret Santa, anyone?
Have you ever played Secret Santa? I love this holiday game, especially when you’re trying to cut down on how much you spend on gifts. Here’s how it goes: Write down every participant’s name on a piece of paper and draw a random name or two. You can even make your own rules and set a maximum budget for each gift. This way, everyone gets a gift, and everyone’s bank accounts are still happy.
- Earn extra holiday cash.
There are several ways to snatch up some extra cash for the holidays.
Sell Old Items – Take a minute to look through some of your old household items and see what may be valuable to someone else. Apps like OfferUp, 5Miles and even Facebook Marketplace make selling old items a breeze and can get you some cash in your pocket — fast.
Pick up a Holiday Job – So many companies — like JCPenney, Amazon and UPS — hire seasonal help around the holidays. If you have the time, taking on a side gig is a great way to add income.
Use your Talents – Are you good at making holiday wreaths? Do you make a bomb pumpkin or pecan pie? Are you a skilled makeup artist or hair stylist? Take a minute to think about a skill you may have that can help you earn a little extra cash this holiday season.
Drive for Uber – ’Tis the season for traveling. Signing up with Uber or Lyft is a quick and straightforward way to earn money and provide rides to out-of-towners in need of a car service. As long as you have a car, a license and auto insurance, you can turn your vehicle into a money-making machine at your leisure.
You can find more money managing tips on Hall-Coleman’s website, Girlfriend’s, Budget!