8 Ways to Successfully Waste Money and More this Holiday Season

It's been an expensive year in the U.S.  Inflation and interest rates are up, and the costs of food, gas, and electricity are all higher too (you know – those necessities we can't do without).  And the holidays always bring plenty of extra expenses.

But an October survey by financial services giant Deloitte found that shoppers are planning to spend a record-setting amount on gifts, decorations, food, and more this year – an average of $1,652 that we may not actually have.

If your goal is to begin the New Year with a pile of credit card debt (and who doesn't want that?), be sure to follow these time-tested strategies.  Side benefits include cluttering your house with junk and courting burnout and exhaustion.  Ready to learn how?

holiday money

How to turn holiday cheer into New Year misery

1.  Ignore budgets.

Budgets are boring and restrictive.  Debt counselor Dave Ramsey says they're a way to help you set priorities and account for where your money is going, but what does he know?

Sure, you can do your best to minimize spending and look for good deals, but don't kill your holiday buzz by getting stuck on details.  You may spend more than you have, but that's what credit cards are for.

2.  Plan to do it all.

The holidays are about going all out, right?  Buy gifts for everyone you know.  Cover your house and yard with lights and inflatables.  Buy new clothes for every special outing.  Mix in plenty of restaurant meals (because you're simply too busy to cook), lots of expensive alcohol for holiday parties, and Uber rides home for all your friends who overindulge.  (Don't forget to tip!)

If you don't set a photo-worthy holiday table, wrap your gifts like something designed for a magazine spread, and mail at least 100 holiday cards to your closest friends, there's something wrong with how you're doing the holiday.  Don't kid yourself.  This time of year isn't about comfort and joy – it's about getting noticed and complimented.

3.  If you need to spend more, take on a side gig.

It's way more important to buy more stuff or take that holiday trip than it is to spend relaxed time with your family and loved ones.  I don't care if you already work full-time.  Add several more hours per day with a side gig, such as retail sales or Uber driver.  After all, you don't get anywhere in this world if you don't hustle.  Create the holiday of your dreams no matter what it takes.

4.  Don't leave your credit cards at home.

As I said earlier, credit cards are made for holiday over-spending.  And don't worry about interest rates of 24% and higher.  You'll deal with that later.  Ignore the fact that all the interest you rack up will negate any deals you find at holiday sales.  Tomorrow is another day – you can think about it then.

5.  Load your house with lights and decorations.

Yes, there is a prize for the person with the most bulbs and décor – bragging rights until next year!  Go big or go home is what I always say, so even if you already have a lot of holiday décor, now's the time to add to it (or completely replace everything because everyone saw it all last year).  Worry about the electric bill when it comes.

Besides, LEDs are energy-efficient.  Even if you use ten times the number you used to, it's still "green."  Green enough, anyway.

Don't listen to people who tell you that a string or two of lights hanging on your eaves, a few luminarias ascending your porch steps, and a wreath on the door will make your house look festive for less.  And never mind going the natural route, with greenery collected from your own yard or a couple of poinsettias from the grocery store.

6.  Go ahead and buy that junk.

When it comes to holiday gifts (especially for the kids), not only is more always better, but it's important for them to have whatever retailers have decided is the hot gift this year.  You don't want to make kids feel left out, even if that fad item is a useless piece of plastic crap.  It doesn't matter if they really love it – it matters that they have what retailers have told them they want.

And it's totally okay to get into a fist fight over the last one in stock.

Since more is always better, stock up at the dollar store with a bunch of cheap stuff that won't last a day or offer anything of value to your child.  It doesn't matter if it will sit for centuries in a landfill.  It matters that the stockings are bulging and the tree is knee-deep in gifts.

7.  Turn up the thermostat.

Don't worry about the size of the heating bill.  The holidays are about being cozy, and that means keeping the thermostat high.  Forget warm socks, an extra sweater, or a mug of hot tea.  Never mind an extra blanket on the bed.

8.  Order all gifts online after December 20.

Leaving everything to the last minute like this ensures that you'll get to pay the highest shipping fees.  Yay!

Nothing in moderation

If the pundits say the average holiday spending per household is projected to be $1,652, be sure to do your part.  Our economy will collapse if you don't.  Even if you have that much money available to you, don't do something crazy like give more to charity or save and invest more (even though those things contribute to the economy as well).

The holidays are supposed to be big.  Festive is not a candle in the window.  Festive is a stunning number of lights, gifts, and displays.  I mean it – you need shock and awe or you might as well not bother.

Lol!  Maybe you want to start planning for a simpler, more personalized and peaceful holiday instead!  Please consider my book, A Minimalist Holiday: Simplify Your Celebration for More Meaning and Joy, available on Amazon.  You don't have to do more or buy more to make the holidays mean more, and A Minimalist Holiday will show you how.

Also available:  My holiday story for children, Fairhaven Christmas Eve.  Everyone in Fairhaven is busy with holiday plans, but some have forgotten the reason for the celebration.  Three children are struggling to find the ingredients that will make the day truly special, while another has forgotten how much she has to give.


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