We’ve all been guilty of overspending during the holidays and experiencing that pang of anxiety once the credit card bill arrives in January. Wise spending, however, and making a conscious effort to stick to a budget will not only help you enjoy your holidays, but also reduce the stress that comes with overdue bills. By keeping these holiday spending tips in mind, you can rein in holiday spending like a pro. Here’s our holiday spending money guide.
Consider your budget in your holiday shopping list
Just because it is the holiday season, it does not mean you do not have to pay for rent, transportation, and general living expenses. When you are creating your holiday shopping list, consider what you can actually afford to spend on top of your fixed set of monthly expenditures. With this figure in mind, you can establish a total limit on your holiday spending money. If you adhere closely to this figure, there will not be any scary surprises in January. Examining your existing budget before you spend will help reinforce what you already know about your financial situation. If you do not have a great deal of extra income, you will have to be extra careful about not overspending or find other areas in your budget where you can free up some extra money.
Save for holiday spending money
As part of our holiday spending money guide, this tip requires a bit of planning. If you have not already started putting money away, you can implement this tip next year. If you know you are going to be spending a certain amount of money on a gift, look at your budget and find opportunities to put away money to save for this gift. Our tips on how to save money may help you. Find areas in your expenses where you can cut back. This may be your daily coffee, taxis, nights out with friends and family – instead, put that money towards your holiday goals. Saving towards your goals is a great habit to get into because it curbs the need for instant gratification and you get time to seriously consider your purchase.
Check who’s on your shopping list
While you want to make sure everyone in your life (your family, mailman, or the receptionist at the dentist’s office) knows that you love and appreciate them at this time of year, it is not realistic to buy everyone a gift at the holidays. A thoughtful way to show your appreciation is to make a donation on their behalf, where a card can be sent without disclosing the amount donated. As part of our holiday spending money guide, also try to keep your shopping list short and focused. Can you establish a spending limit or implement a gift-giving system in your family that reduces the gifting burden? If you’re part of a Secret Santa at work, stick to the spending limit. Remember, the holidays are not about buying and receiving gifts. A great way to give back to the community is to volunteer your time. You can help wrap gifts for fundraising, deliver meals to the less fortunate, or help at your local food bank. Make this a tradition with your family and friends and we promise you’ll feel more satisfaction than if you were to spend thousands on gifts.
Pay in cash
If money is tight, do not rely on your credit card for holiday shopping. Adhering to your budget is easier when you see the money leaving your hands, and is often less tempting. Once the cash is gone, you cannot spend any more. Spending in cash also means you won’t have to deal with the interest that accrues when you don’t make a full payment on time. If you are using your credit card, do not spend what you cannot pay in full at the end of the month. Credit card debt can be a slippery slope, so it is important to do what you can to avoid it.
Look for holiday deals
One of the keys to shopping smartly is looking for the best holiday deals, and using coupons. Most stores have price-match policies, which are worth investigating. Details vary from store to store but make sure you’re getting the best price for your purchases by checking printed and online flyers before you purchase a gift. If you find a better price, bring the flyer with you to the store to receive the difference on previous purchases. It is a good idea to keep an eye on deals leading up to December. Sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer deep discounts that will help you stick to your holiday shopping budget. It is also not a bad idea to shop through the year. Discounts on bigger ticket items, for example, will be better at some times of the year more than others. Consult online guides like Lifehacker to save even more.
It’s challenging not to get wrapped up in all of the festivities but remember that family and friends are the most important part of the holidays. If you have questions on our holiday spending money guide, contact us at 310-4321, email us, or visit our nearest location for a free consultation. You can also fill out our free assessment form online and one of our representatives will contact you directly.