31 Oct Start Budgeting for the Holidays
Now is the time. It’s starting to feel like fall and the holidays will be here before you know it. Although the holidays are about enjoying time with family and friends… gifts, parties and celebrations can also bring on the stress of finances. Whether it’s yards of tinsel, gifts for friends and family or a special treat for yourself, it’s easy to go overboard on your spending. If you start to plan your budget now, you can be less stressed when the season is actually here!
Check out some of these ideas you can stick to in the coming months to prepare yourself.
Set Money Aside
Think about how much you would like to spend for each person, and an average total, that won’t break your bank. One way to budget is to set aside an amount for each paycheck leading up towards the season. Another option is to start stashing some cash away weekly. If you can put aside $40 per week starting November 1st, you’ll have an extra $320.00, as opposed to splurging with stress at the last minute.
Purchase Gifts Early
Purchasing gifts in a short amount of time leads to overspending. Start planning ahead and make a list of the things you know your loved ones want or need. Try buying one or two gifts a week and keep in mind the costs of wrapping paper, shipping, stamps, etc that can sneak up on you. Make sure to mail things early so you don’t have to pay extra for fast shipping. If you start purchasing early, you will have more time to relax and enjoy your month of December.
Look for Deals
Once your “who to buy for” list is made, start searching for sales and deals. Buying several gifts from one website or catalog can help you save on shipping costs, or you can search for places that offer free shipping. Compare prices from weekend newspapers, websites, or printable coupons from major retailers. Check large chain discount stores where you can get brand-name accessories, housewares, clothing, decor, toys, and even pet supplies at a fraction of the price.
Make a Shopping Plan
This is how people blow their budget. Head to the mall with a specific list. If you brainstorm ahead of time, you can go shopping with a direct plan. Since you’ve already researched your deals, you can now focus on the places you “need” to shop. This will help you with any splurging, or picking up a sale item for yourself.
Consider making homemade gifts. Many gifts don’t come with a receipt and are more heartfelt. You could bake some treats, make a themed basket of things they love, put together a photo album, make coupons, or offer to babysit or cook dinner.
Enjoy the Simple Things
Focus on the small pleasures of the holiday season. Invite neighbors over for a potluck dinner, plan a cookie swap, take a walk around the neighborhood to check out the decorations, or look up local activities that can capture the holiday spirit without the large expenses. It’s the small things that can really make the holidays feel special and it will cut back on the stress of spending for larger events.
Be Smart with your Credit Card
Last but not least, think before using your credit card for expenses. Try to keep in mind that by buying something on sale, and not having the budget to pay it off right away, can end up costing you double then the sale price. Stick to your budgeting plan to control spending and also avoid high interest costs. Start out a happy new year without large credit card bills and additional debt from the holidays.