The holiday season is just around the corner, a time for family gatherings, good food, and plenty of presents.
But giving gifts means spending money – sometimes a little too much of it. Looking for some tips to get through the upcoming holiday season with your budget intact? Not to worry; here are our best budgeting tips for the holidays to help you check off everyone on your holiday list, without burning a hole in your wallet!
Make a plan and stick to it
The first, and arguably the most important budgeting tip for the holiday season is to actually create a budget – and stick to it.
Drawing up a holiday spending plan is the best way to ensure that your seasonal spending doesn’t put you in debt. To get an idea of your total expenses, jot down a list of everything that you will be spending money on this holiday season, including gifts (for family, friends, and co-workers,) as well as cards, wrapping paper, decorations, travel-related expenses, and any charitable donations.
Set a spending limit
After you’ve figured out what you will need to purchase, decide what your maximum spending limit will be – make sure to only include money you have set aside for the holidays. If you wish to do so, you can also include any extra money found or made.
Afterwards, you can assign a certain amount to each item on your list – decide how much you have available for gifts, how much for travel, etc. At this point, it’s helpful to get as specific as you can, allocating specific amounts for each gift, so that you can search for items within your allocated price range.
Make a list (and check it twice!)
At this point, you can start to make your shopping list. You can even jot down a couple of ideas for each individual on your list. It’s helpful to establish this list before you head to the mall, or begin online shopping.
Track your spending
Once you start your holiday shopping, it’s important that you track your spending diligently, so that you don’t end up inadvertently going over budget.
To help you stay on track with your holiday shopping, make sure to regularly check your account balance – one easy way to do this is by downloading your bank’s mobile app. That way, you can check your balance anytime, anywhere, even on the go.
You can also download a money management app like Mint where you can create a budget, track your spending, and even check your credit score.
Holiday shopping is one instance where the old adage rings true – work smarter, not harder. Shop smart to make the most of your holiday budget by taking advantage of sales, coupons, and bargain-hunting whenever you can.
Watch for holiday sales by regularly checking your local flyers. One simple way to stay on top of sales and deals is by using a flyer app like Flipp.
When it comes to the pricier purchases on your list, don’t just settle on the first option you see – this is the perfect time to do some comparison shopping, so you can find the lowest price across multiple stores and websites.
Opt for “Secret Santa”
This beloved holiday tradition isn’t just for the office! Why not bring Secret Santa home for the holidays, and do a secret family gift exchange of your own this holiday season?
Instead of everyone buying a gift for each family member, simply draw names out of a hat so that each family member gets one individual for whom to secretly purchase a gift. This works especially well for larger families – instead of buying multiple small gifts, each person can buy one larger gift for just one other family member. Not only is it easier on your wallet, it’s also a fun holiday tradition that will get the whole family into the holiday spirit.
Stick to cash or debit
When we get to the checkout with our shopping cart full of goodies, it’s all too tempting to pull out our credit card to pay for all of those gifts – and that makes it all too easy to overspend, despite our best efforts.
Instead of using your credit card this holiday season, try as much as you can to stick to making your purchases with cash or debit. One good way to avoid overspending is to withdraw just as much cash as you need right before your trip to the mall. If you’re confident in your budgeting abilities, you can even leave your credit card at home to avoid using it at the last minute.
Happy shopping – and budgeting!