Balling on a budget for the holiday season



By Natalie Garcia, CONTRIBUTOR
For shoppers like Alaina Roswell, gift-giving on a tight income makes her uneasy during the holiday season. As a full-time student and working part-time as a server, Roswell’s income has restricted her from being able to give her loved ones gifts from their wishlist.
November signals the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the United States. While the holidays are intended to be a time of giving, happiness, and bringing loved ones closer together, they also tend to be financially burdening for some. For shoppers who struggle to fulfill everybody’s wishlist, stresses remain overwhelming.
After four consecutive years of being unable to financially contribute towards holiday season events, Roswell has established a system within her budget that allows her to give to her loved ones.
“I never wanted to be that person who shows up empty-handed to any event especially the holidays, and I struggled to accept that during the past few years,” Roswell said. ” It’s just the kind of person I am, which is why I created a way to give to my loved ones without breaking my already small bank.”
During Roswell’s third year of college back in 2016, she started to put her creativity to work and expanded her ideas about what she could make from tools and supplies she had access to without having to buy much.
With help from YouTube tutorials and blogs, she was able to create dishes to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, and for Christmas she made personalized picture shadow boxes that included small keepsakes.
For Thanksgiving, Roswell asked family members to send her one dish they really wanted. Whether it was a dinner entree or dessert, she would make a mini version just for them that they didn’t have to share. Since it was only made to serve one person the cost was within her means.
“It’s the feeling of making someone else feel special. The surprising look I get followed up by being questioned if it was only for them never gets old.”
Budgeting for Christmas became manageable for Roswell after she established that taking the time to make a handmade gift is more personal for her family and friends.
“For Christmas I buy picture frames from the dollar store put a picture of me and the specific person I’m giving it to, along with baking their all-time favorite cookies and wrap it super pretty. Every year I give them an updated picture of us,” Roswell said.
Being financially unstable during the holiday season is a burden that impacts many families. Budgeting within a person’s financial means is important especially for those who wish to give to others. With a little research and willingness to create something, gift-giving becomes a little less cumbersome.
Michael Thomas, financial advisor with United Legacy, offers information and advice for people that are experiencing financial instability through the holidays.
“Unfortunately, people feel defeated every year based on their financial stability throughout the year, so they don’t bother trying to adjust their spending habits in time for the holidays,” Thomas said in an interview.
Thomas advises most of his clients to start by small financial adjustments throughout the year, rather than having someone try and coordinate money within one month, especially those with families.
“Start shopping even at the beginning of the year, and buy smaller things when you visit the stores. Collect coins and throw them in a container every day, it adds up over the course of a few months. The best tip I see my clients utilize is to only spend cash while holiday shopping,” Thomas continues.
The holidays don’t have to be financially daunting for families. Planning ahead of time and making small adjustments can alleviate the stress and regulating spending limits will better control overextending our budgets.
“I tell my clients if they know they are planning a trip to the store for holiday shopping bring a specific amount of cash with them and leave their cards at home. It is the safest way to ensure they will not and essentially can’t go over their spending limit and tend to shop mindfully,” Thomas said.