The holidays are upon us. It's the perfect time for your social calendar, but a terrible time for your wallet. You are going to be invited to lots of family get togethers, parties and band gigs. Many won’t cost you to walk through the door, but they will cost you. How do you decide what events are important and what ones you can skip without causing a social faux pas when going to every event would beget a financial disaster? Fear not there are ways around major monetary expenses if you are not in a position or chose not to be in the position to spend like a millionaire.
Family get togethers cost more money if you are the single or 20 something in the family. The reason is because you have no kids to pay for; so people expect more out of you. One way around this issue is to shop early and check the sales before the holidays start. You can also pace yourself so that the money isn’t put out all in one paycheck and still be the cool Aunt or Uncle. If you missed that idea, there’s always discount outlets, on-line shopping, and in this area, a great little company called Five Below. I have used Five Below myself, and you can look like a champ on a very small budget.
Your next hurtle are friends who like to follow local music and DJs and run around during the holidays to see them. During the holidays, you have more time off and that translates to more nights to stay out late. There is one way to combat this issue. First be proactive. Visit the bars' website and call them. Find out the specials ahead of time. You also need to remember that just because one beer cost $2.00 doesn’t mean it’s the best value for your dollar. Another beer or beverage may be much larger for only a small amount more. Checking ahead saves the embarrassment over asking about the specials or finding out they don’t have any. If you find out they don’t do specials find another bar and see if you can talk your friends into meeting you there. The other way I have found to lower your bar tab is to pay only in cash. You are less likely to spend a ton of money if you watch it dwindle in your wallet. I have seen a weekend bar tab go for $150, down to $50 just by paying cash. You are less likely to by a bunch of rounds and you don’t risk the uncomfortable conversation of asking your friends who put what on your tab.
A party at your friends’ homes is another story. You need to bring something but what? Wine is the usual gift or dessert. Again here it is best to be proactive, check out the sales and see where your money is better spent to look good and spend less. Normally, at the holiday season, wine companies put sales out there to get the most customers during this time of the year from their competitors.
You may not have to pay to get into some parties, but some office parties might have a fee. If you are paying for an office party first find a few things out. What exactly are you paying for? Is it dinner, appetizers, or drinks? Many parties look cheap because they only include appetizers, and you should find out what they are having before handing in your check. You can always say, “Sorry I have a family thing that night.” In addition, be aware of the “cash bar” at some of these events, they rarely have specials, unless they are at a bar or restaurant that is open to the public, however, soda and juice may be free. This is one way to get around spending money on alcohol; no one really knows what’s in your glass.
Using these few simple steps can take an anxious holiday season filled with monetary worry and turn it into a hot, banging time with your friends. The main point here is to be proactive. Only you know how much money you can spend without going broke or acquiring late fees because you can’t afford your credit card bill.