Budgets: Holiday Budgeting
Enjoy the holiday season a little more this year by creating budgets and spending your money wisely. With careful planning, you can get great gifts for everyone on your list without going into debt. You’ll be able to relax knowing that you won’t start the new year with high payments on your credit cards each month.
Well before the holidays start, create your holiday budget. This number should include gifts, clothing, decorations, travel and all holiday related expenses. Next, create budgets for each area of spending.
When you buy something, write it down. If you spend too much money in one category, take money from another category to cover the additional expense.
During the holidays, stores use sights, sounds and smells to entice customers into the store to spend money. It’s a fast paced time of the year, and we think we can justify the extra expenses in December by cutting expenses in January, but that doesn’t happen. Some families pay for their holiday spending for most of the next year! If you often fall to temptation, avoid the stores during the holiday season. Shop online or take a friend to keep you on track.
Do you remember every gift you got as a child? Your kids probably won’t remember their gifts either. What you — and your children — will remember are the memories and traditions. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford extravagant gifts. Instead, create holiday memories like baking cookies, making gifts or volunteering with a charity.
Start your holiday shopping early to give yourself time to find the best deals. You’ll have time to plan your gifts, and you can compare prices between several stores. When you wait until the last minute to shop, you’ll be tempted to buy expensive gifts just because you are tired and want to be done shopping.
Help your budget stretch further by shopping smarter. Retailers often mark popular gifts on sale in the weeks before Christmas, so buy when the price is low. Stores will often issue store coupons to help you save money, and manufacturer’s coupons can be used at most big box stores.
Take your credit cards out of your wallet before you go shopping so you won’t be tempted to go over budget. Using cash will force you to carefully consider every purchase because you know you only have a limited amount of money to spend. If you must use a credit card, deduct the price from your checkbook so you have the money to pay off the bill.
Setting budgets for your holiday spending is the first step in taking control of your finances. With these tips, you can have a wonderful holiday season without breaking the bank or spending the next year paying off your credit cards.