The season of giving is creeping up on us which means it’s time to create a holiday budget.
Without a holiday budget, your spending will be untraceable and the chances of overspending are much more likely.
A budget for the holiday season will relieve some of the stress that might be weighing on your shoulders and provide you a healthy relationship with finances.
A successful holiday budget will ensure you don’t overspend and go into debt once the holiday season is over.
Avoid all the unnecessary financial stress by adding thoughtful financial planning to your holiday season.
Use these tips below to enjoy the season without putting a dent in your budget:
1. Holiday budget and track
Create a budget for holiday shopping to set yourself up for success. Determine how much you can afford to spend on holiday purchases.
Build out a budget utilizing a spreadsheet. Include everything you can imagine spending money on such as decorations, travel expenses, gifts, and food.
To avoid overspending, track all of your purchases with the budget you created on your spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet will help you stay organized and indicate whether you’re following your budget accordingly.
2. Research the best places to buy
Do research ahead of time to find the best deals.
This doesn’t necessarily mean go to your local discount shop, but if you have a gift in mind see what retailers are selling it.
Compare prices and find which store is going to give you the best deal.
Some retailers might be even willing to price-match another retailer to ensure they receive your business. Check retailer policies to see if this is an option.
3. Reduce regular budget expenses
If you want to dedicate more income to holiday spending, cut your regular budget expenses.
Try your best to cook at home, make lunch for work and avoid making any unnecessary purchases.
This will give you more room to either save cash or increase the flow you want to have available for holiday spending.
4. Shop sales
Get the most out of your buck by looking for the best sales and deals.
A good way to find out about upcoming sales is to sign-up for email alerts from retailers to get a heads-up.
You should also take advantage of infamous sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday but be wary that you only make purchases on items that are actually on sale and avoid getting carried away by normal priced items.
If you’re gifting an experience, look on sites like Groupon first, if you’re shopping online use chrome extensions like Honey.
5. Avoid impulse shopping
The temptation to buy impulse holiday gifts can be hard to fight.
When you find yourself tempted to buy additional gifts for family and friends always resort back to your holiday gift list.
You should also try to minimize self-gifting.
Even though products are discounted at a good rate self-gifting can get out of hand if they’re all impulse buys.
If you find that buying items for yourself is hard to avoid then you should include it within your budget.
6. Create a gifting list
Create a gifting list for family and friends ahead of time.
This is will help you decide what gifts you intend to buy and how much you’re going to spend.
Planning ahead will also give you time to research where to buy each item for the best deal by doing prior research.
A list also helps ensure that you don’t get carried away when you’re shopping because you know exactly what you need to purchase from each store.
7. Separate your holiday funds
Keep all of your holiday funds separated from your regular funds and in one place.
This helps you stay organized and helps fight the temptation of pulling out more money than what is set aside for holiday purchases.
8. Use cash
The best way to stay out of debt is to use cash. Using cash makes spenders more cautious about their purchases.
Credit and debit cards lead to more impulse purchases and don’t involve much emotion. If you pay upfront, you’ll be more likely to stick to your budget.
Not to mention scammers take advantage of the season and you’ll be much less at risk if you’re not utilizing your card.
The last gift you’ll want to receive is an error on your credit report due to a shopping scam.
9. Shop early
Shopping early can help you save a good amount of money.
When seasons change, retailers need room to make for all new merchandise. This means that retailers are heavily discounting their products.
Thanksgiving week is usually when you’ll see these discounts pick up. Also, if you plan ahead you’ll avoid having the pressure of getting gifts last-minute.
10. Shop online
If the pressure of large shopping groups and loud holiday music distracts you from staying focused on your budget, you should resort to shopping online.
If you can get free shipping, online shopping might even be a better deal than going into stores.
It’s much easier to find coupon codes and browse for the best deals.
11. Gift with love
Meaningful presents are not about how much it retails for.
Personalizing gifts to family and friends is a special gesture they will be sure to love.
If you’re a natural in the kitchen, making baked goods is a great gift. If you’re crafty you can gift handmade items such as candles, soaps and knitted blankets.
12. Eliminating holiday debt
In the event that you find yourself after the holidays with a larger amount of debt than you expected you’ll need to tackle how you plan on eliminating that debt.
If you’re already in existing debt, added holiday debt can be the last push before you file for bankruptcy.
The best way to pay it off is to prioritize your holiday credit card by paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.
This ensures that you eliminate the most expensive debt you have. After paying that off, you should then focus on paying the credit card with the smallest balance.
Paying the smallest balance will keep you motivated and keep you less overwhelmed.
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Katherine White writes articles for businesses that want to explore different marketing strategies. Currently, she is a contributor for 365 Business Tips and a digital marketing expert for local brands such as Breazy. Her educational background in Public Relations helps her tackle topics regarding strategy, branding and messaging