One of the best ways to ensure you have a happy holiday season is to get to the end of it without feeling like you have bankrupted your family or added credit card debt to your balance sheet. And, the best way to do that is to set a budget and stick to it throughout the season. To help you sustain your holiday joy, here are some tips for setting and sticking to your budget this season.
1. Be Realistic About Your Budget
Rather than basing your budget on what you want to spend or on what you need to buy everyone the presents you want to get them, base your budget on what you can actually afford. Overspending is easier if you are already spending more money than you can afford. Once you start using credit cards, each purchase becomes a little easier and before you know it, you will have blown past your budget.
2. Think Past the Presents
One mistake many of us make in our holiday budget planning is that we decide what we are going to spend on presents but forget to budget for all the other things that cost money during the season. Expenses like decorating, shipping, entertaining, traveling, and attending parties can really add up. Including these in your initial budget will help you keep on top of your overall seasonal spending.
3. Keep Track
It doesn’t do much good to set a budget if you have no idea how much you have spent or what you have spent it on. Tracking your spending is as important to staying on track as setting the budget in the first place.
4. Be Flexible
Your detailed budget doesn’t have to be absolute. If you spend less on decorations or entertaining than you expected, you can always shift the excess over to buy more gifts. But, the opposite is also true. If you spend more than you planned in one area, you will need to decrease your expenditures in another area to account for the difference.
5. Make a List
Another way to help keep your spending under wraps is to make a list of what presents, decorations, etc. you plan to buy, and then stick to the list. No matter what you are buying, you are likely to buy more if you don’t have a list. The same is true with holiday spending.
6. Group Gifts Together
One way to decrease the amount you need to spend in order to give great gifts is to combine gifts for couples or families. Rather than getting a gift for your brother and a gift for your sister-in-law that each cost $40, spend $70 on a single gift for both of them. You will have more flexibility around what you can purchase while also saving money.
7. Start Early
The biggest budget killer is last minute shopping. If you put things off until the last minute, you can’t shop around for the best price and you may end up buying more and spending more than you planned. Start your shopping early and you will get more and spend less.
- 7 Tips for Tightening Up Your Holiday Spending (fillyourplate.org)
- Filling Your Plate with Healthy Food May Actually Save You Money (fillyourplate.org)
- Healthy Foods: The Affordable Choice (fillyourplate.org)