manage budget during holiday season

Be Mindful of Your Budget and the Planet This Holiday Season

What’s something you and the Earth have in common? The holiday season can affect both of you. It can be quite a busy time between Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other celebrations ahead. 

Rather than wishing for the festivities to go easy on your budget and the planet, take control. See how you can take the initiative to create such an outcome. Being mindful this time of year requires a sprinkle of awareness and a dash of action.

manage budget during holiday season

The Impact on the Environment

During this time of year, there’s always pressure to buy into all the Black Friday and end-of-year sales. You try to have the most well-decorated home and order in tons of food. Amid the hustle and bustle, most people overlook the extra one million tons of household waste headed to the landfill between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

Outside of a consumer perspective, the holiday continues to affect the environment. For instance, manufacturing products and shipping them as fast as they’re ready can increase greenhouse gas production and affect our winter air. 

There’s relatively little to do on that front since the government and big-scale corporations are responsible for combatting climate change in today’s day and age. However, taking your own individual steps is an excellent way to help out the environment.

The Impact on Your Wallet

Several people skip tracking their expenses during the holiday season, but it might be time to do so. Credit card activity always increases in November and December, due to the holiday rush. When the bill comes and you haven’t kept track of your spending, you might face credit card debt.

Many people tend to excuse this predicament for the sake of memories and Christmas cheer, which is more than understandable. However, it’s essential to see there’s a fine line between having fun celebrations and securing your financial health.

7 Tips for Handling the Holidays

Now that you know how the holidays affect your budget and the planet, it’s time to act. Overhauling every part of your holiday is definitely too much, as there are still ways to have fun while keeping things eco-friendly and economical.

1. Be Intentional with Your Presents

Presents can rack up your expenses and the total amount of waste your household can produce. Here are a few points to help you be more intentional with your gift-giving:

    • Write up a list: Skip the aimless shopping and impulse buying by having a game plan when buying presents. Write down who you want to give gifts to this year and think in advance about what to give.
    • Find sustainable products: While brainstorming what you want to give, consider supporting sustainable brands and getting their products as gifts. This cues the recipient in on being more environmentally friendly this season.
    • Skip the wrapping paper: Unboxing the gift is part of the holiday wonder, but try to find substitutes for wrapping paper. If any newspapers and magazines are lying around, utilize them for this purpose.
    • Look into digital gifts: If you want to skip getting a physical item, you can get a digital gift like an online membership, streaming subscription or virtual coupon. Maybe you know someone who has always wanted Audible, but didn’t know how to tell you.

2. Find Green Cleaning Alternatives

No one wants to admit it, but the holidays can get a little messy. If your household goes through plenty of plastic-bottled beverages and aluminum food containers, it’s important to see how you can scale down and dispose of these without harming the environment.

Try to find eco-friendly products and techniques to try out this season. For example, vinegar is a magical ingredient for killing bacteria and removing mold in your home. There’s no need to spend money on it if it’s already in your cupboard.

3. Choose the Reusables

Speaking of plastic and aluminum, try to find reusable options. Disposable plates, spoons, forks and cups may seem convenient, but they won’t last you long. The water and energy used for manufacturing are much higher than the reusable version.

The same principle of utilizing reusable objects should also apply to other things. For instance, rather than getting disposable Christmas gift crackers, choose the reusable option instead to avoid the expense next year.

4. Arrange a Staycation

Americans take around 15 billion trips during the holiday season, which can increase the country’s carbon footprint and your credit card bills. It’s understandable to want a vacation before the year ends, but it may make sense financially and environmentally to celebrate at home.

If you have plans to head out, practice sustainable tourism this holiday season and budget for it. Support locals in the area you’re heading to. You can also opt to go camping and treat it as an experience gift for yourself and your loved ones.

5. Decorate with Intention

Leave the extravagant decorations behind and try to be more purposeful in your decorating process this year. Pick certain ornaments you would enjoy displaying this year and in the future. DIY projects can also help you with your savings.

Did you know a living Christmas tree is better for the environment than an artificial one? Around 90% of artificial trees are shipped from China, which uses up many resources, while increasing carbon emissions. If you want one as a centerpiece, choose wisely. 

6. Unplug the String Lights

Lights are pretty to look at, but they do use quite a bit of energy. This usage can take a toll on the environment and increase your last electric bill of the year. Remember to unplug lights when they aren’t used, to avoid extra costs.

You can also look into other variations of these fixtures, both the ones for decor and everyday use. For example, LED lights can be energy-efficient, while providing the same brightness as your regular lighting.

7. Repurpose Leftovers

Spending money on food and not eating it can cause a bit of personal regret. It’s not ideal for the environment either, since 96% of wasted food from households heads into landfills and combustion facilities. Try to find ways to prevent getting excess food.

If you have leftovers, try to repurpose them. If you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, use it in sandwich melts when you’re feeling hungry. Leftovers can also serve as your meat in a savory casserole. 

Make a HOLIDAY Season of Sustainability and Savings

A mindset geared toward sustainability and savings this holiday season is a commendable step to putting the planet and your finances first. Try out the tips above and enact the difference you can make before the year ends.

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