If you want to ensure you don’t blow your holiday spending budget this year, it’s never too early to set yourself up for success. Here are 6 ways to boost your holiday budget and enter the new year in the black:
Nail Down Your Spending and Saving Strategy
Whether you like to spread out your holiday shopping or do it in one fell swoop right before the big day, having a plan makes all the difference. If you’ve got a good hiding place and a little extra cash each paycheck, start buying gifts about three or four months leading up to the holiday. Or if you prefer to do one big shopping trip, save that extra cash in a separate account each time you get paid so it’s ready when you need it. Having a shopping strategy will help you manage your expenses more effectively.
Make a List and Stick to It
Write down all the people you have to shop for this season. Aside from family members and close friends, don’t forget any potential customary gifts for neighbors, teachers, coaches, and service providers like your gardener and cleaning crew. Once you know who you have to buy for, you can determine how much of your budget should go to each person. Then, you can use that as a guide to choose a gift in the right price range. Arming yourself with a list of exactly what you intend to buy is an effective way to help you stick to your budget.
Take Advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
If you have your eye on a big-ticket item, scope out seasonal deals and do your homework. Often a deal in your local brick and mortar store can be found even cheaper online – and bonus if there’s free shipping. It pays to do a little research to know where and when the best deals can be found. The more you save, the more flexibility you give yourself on other non-sale items.
Think Before You Buy
Is that purchase on your list? With so many enticing deals during the holiday season, it’s hard not to purchase things for yourself, or go big on an item you didn’t plan for. But don’t get caught up in the excitement and rush of it all with impulse buys. Sure, that television might have a super special discount, but if it wasn’t in your budget, pass on it. Your wallet will thank you.
Don’t Forget About Non-Gift Holiday Expenses
Seasonal expenses go well beyond gifts. Don’t forget the cost of printing and mailing holiday cards, seasonal decorations, making end-of-year charitable contributions, and even additional childcare costs due to school closures. Your budget should include any and all out-of-the-norm costs. Considering these seasonal differences in your spending will help you set a realistic budget to keep expenses inline.
Track Spending Throughout the Season
A budget works best when you track your progress. As you make purchases, keep an eye on expenses and adjust appropriately. If you spent too much in one area, figure out where to cut in another. And if you must resort to using credit to help you get through the season, make a plan to pay it down as quickly as possible.
With a little forethought and oversight, you can stress less about holiday expenses and spend more energy and time enjoying the season to the fullest.