The holiday season is a common time to run up more costs than you may have intended. Holiday meals with all the trimmings, buying gifts for everyone, and higher heating costs are likely to cut into even the most careful budget fairly quickly.
Don't worry; help is at hand with these tips that will help you save more money.
1. Make a Budget and Keep to It
Some of the ways in which you can make a budget include spending only a specific amount on each person or setting a spending cap. However, there are a couple of things to watch for with your budget. One is making your budget too tight, causing you to end up disregarding it. Another is not planning for unexpected expenses that often occur at this time. Think carefully about your purchases and how you'll allow for the unexpected.
2. Make a Formal Giving Plan
Think about everyone you plan to give a gift to, preferably sometime just after Halloween. Find an amount you think will help you find a good gift for each person on your list, even if you're unsure of the gift yourself. Calculate how well these amounts fit into the budget, also allowing for extras like gift-wrapping or shipping costs. Give some thought to whether less-expensive or homemade gifts might be better choices.
3. Keep Tabs on Your Spending
You'll need to track your spending to make sure you're staying within your budget. Keeping the funds in a separate bank account or on a separate prepaid debit card makes it easier to keep holiday spending separate. Use online banking or banking apps to have better access to your balances in real-time. You can also consider using spreadsheets. All of these methods are likely to yield better results than simply accumulating receipts.
We offer a Free Monthly Budget Worksheet that allows you to track your spending easily and effectively!
4. Shop with a Sense of Purpose
Make sure you've established your spending amount for each person before you start shopping. A lot of displays in stores during the holiday season are designed to appeal to impulse shoppers and can contribute to derailing your budget. If you shop online, you can compare prices a lot more easily and save time. You'll also be able to eliminate a lot of the impulse buying and save money on gas and not eating out.
5. Be a Secret Santa
People with large families or larger groups of friends and co-workers can find Christmas shopping for everyone draining. Taking part in Secret Santa events can help make a major difference in these settings. You'll often find public trees decorated with ornaments that represent a child that a local church or community organization is trying to help. One of the most uplifting things about this option is that participants can help buy presents for as many as they are able to help. It's a fun activity for kids, too, who will enjoy picking out the presents and also learn about giving in the process.
6. Remember What is Most Important
When you're thinking of how much to spend over the holidays, this can be a good time to think about your longer-term goals. Thinking about your life five to 20 years down the road can help you put your spending into the proper perspective.
Are you planning on being free from debt within a few years or maybe retiring early? Thinking of these types of things throughout the season can be a good way to avoid poor choices. If possible, write these goals down and post them someplace where you'll see them daily.
7. Consider Charitable Work or Donations Instead
Many people like to eliminate a lot of the shopping stress by giving to charity instead. Charitable activities may be a good alternative to buying presents if you're cutting back on gift-giving to save for something bigger. Toy and clothing drives are perfect for the disadvantaged in the community. Volunteering for a shelter or pantry is also a worthwhile way to spend your time. You may also want to consider spending what you would have on gifts making care packages for military members, hospital patients, or people living in a shelter.
Reining in your holiday spending isn't a difficult task, but it will require some motivation and perseverance on your part. When you think about making changes to your habits over the holidays, you're likely to see a lot of benefit from the changes you've made. Perhaps you'll contribute the extra cash to save for your down payment, or put it towards upgrades in your new home.