Here Come the Holidays: Will Your Wallet Survive?

Plug those babies in every evening from now until whenever the sun comes back, and let them help your heart be light. (Image credits: Melissa DiRenzo) “We’ll be staying in town this year but we can’t wait to hear all about the festivities. Pro tip: some companies allow you to bring a guest, thus doubling your friend-fun potential! Despite a very limited budget, I am able to pay my bills… Please share your tips for making it through the holidays with enough money left over for food, shelter, heat, and medicine! I’d probably bring homemade treats and a bottle of something, and feel incredibly grateful for their company. If your aunts and uncles always gave gifts to all of the kids but it’s not feasible for you and your peers, institute a name-drawing system, or eliminate gifts altogether and focus on games and crafts. Did your aunts always drive themselves crazy making huge meals, but you all would love Christmas Eve takeout burritos? And if you can make double-pay working on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, consider it. If You Only Have $5 To Spend On Decor, Spend It On String Lights: Seriously, whatever else is going on in your life/budget, sparkliness will help. but what’s this I hear about the holidays approaching? It’s wonderful to be able to spend the holidays with loved ones, but if you can’t handle it for whatever reason, that’s okay, and it’s nobody’s business but your own. Make Do With What You Have: As the Christmas Squid taught us last year, you don’t need fancy, holiday-specific accessories to have festive fun— and I hope you have lots of fun. Get festive, focus on your friends, and leave when it’s not fun anymore. Eat Drink On Your Company’s Dime: I know company holiday parties get a bad rap, but sometimes they’re so fun! If you’re making muffins for breakfast or chili for dinner, maybe make a double batch, but if I took friends up on such an offer, I wouldn’t really expect to be served anything. Create A New, (Nearly) Free Tradition: A friend told me a sweet story about how her friend’s dad didn’t have a lot of money so he would take the girls on weekly winter Christmas Light Patrols. Sometimes things are done in families because they’ve “always” been done that way, but the generation that put those traditions in place might have been very different than your own. Where’s all that present/giftwrap/travel/mulled wine money going to come from? Be Prepared For A Guilt Trip— But Stay Strong! No matter how gracefully you handle matters, there’s always going to be someone who gives you a hard time for having to work through the holidays, not being able to afford plane tickets, and/or wanting to stay home. And if you like your coworkers, so much the better: you might not all figure out another time to get together and celebrate (who has the time or money?) so why not feast, dance, and drink top-shelf liquor for free? Please send photos!” Or, “this is an exciting time of year at [Employer] so I’m unable to get away in December— have a fabulous party!”

Holiday Office Hours: Announce to friends and families something like “We’ll be home on New Year’s Day if anyone would like to stop by!” This makes it clear to one and all that: 1) You would love to see them and are available to do so; 2) The holiday visiting ball is firmly in their court; 3) They shouldn’t expect a formal spread. Winter Walks and Holiday Hikes are free!

Updated: 04.11.2014 — 21:10