This COVID holiday season calls for budgeting your expenses and food

This year I have heard stories about the dreaded “COVID 15”; I even experienced it myself. For many of us, an overabundance of stress leads to an overabundance of consumption, in multiple facets of our lives. Not only does uncertainty trigger bad eating habits, but it also triggers harmful spending habits.

If there was ever a year for safe boating while on vacation, this is it. This holiday season, make it your goal to get through the season without extra padding — on your balance or on your credit card statements.

The following tips will help you stay on track when it comes to eating and spending. The reward ? Start 2021 without needing to add weight or debt reduction to your New Year’s resolutions.

Set a calorie limit. We all know that setting a daily calorie cap and tracking your position can get you through a minefield of food opportunities. To stay financially fit, also limit your vacation spending. This means determining how much you can afford to spend on gifts before shopping. Ideally, you’ll shop with money you’ve already set aside, but regardless, commit to shopping within your means and keep detailed records.

Make a list. If you don’t buy this pie at the grocery store, it won’t increase your waistline. Likewise, if you can resist impulse buying, you won’t increase your debt load. It’s true that music, the aroma of holiday treats, and a generally festive atmosphere can derail even the best-laid plan. So, protect your stomach and your wallet from this onslaught of the senses by sticking to your list and not completing it twice. Remember, huge debt just isn’t fun.

Stay in control. Success in the Battle of the Bulge has a lot to do with creating useful railings. Often, that means taking simple steps like eating healthy meals at home rather than hoarding calories in town. Such maneuvers also work on the financial front. One of the best safeguards is to shop cash only. Credit cards offer the best opportunity to spend what you don’t have or hadn’t planned. Sticking to cash helps you stay in control. When he’s gone, you’re done.

Be creative. No, it’s not in my wheelhouse. But whether you’re taking the stairs instead of the elevator to burn calories or looking for ways to end the vacation with no more debt than you started, it makes sense to put your imagination to good use. On the giveaway side, it could be baked goods, coupons for services (can you say a parents’ night out!) or even cool photos that capture an important moment or friendship. And what’s wrong with drawing names? It might not work for little kids, but for adults like you and me, it means choosing a special gift for that family member and spending less all around.

Don’t buy what you don’t need. Whether it’s groceries or gifts, we’ve all fallen into the “if it’s on sale, buy it” trap. This year, preserve your diet and your budget with this qualifier: it must be on your list. In other words, try to buy things you intended to buy anyway while they’re on sale. Don’t extend your shopping spree just because something seems like a good deal. This is a recipe for extra calories and expense.

So here is. Incorporate these techniques and you’ll be smiling all the way through the holidays and into the New Year – without a big chunk of new debt or a winter “coat.” And remember, it’s not too early to start saving for next year. Happy Holidays!

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