Holiday revelers surely enjoy the challenge of finding just the right presents for friends and family, but planning ahead and planning wisely will also ensure you don’t break the bank in your quest for the perfect gifts during the holiday season.
Decide How Much You Can Spend and Budget
Make that list weeks before your holiday and determine how much you can afford to spend on each person. Set your holiday budget even before you go near a store. One big mistake? People overlook the little extras when they draft a budget. Include everything from postage for Christmas cards and holiday party favors to home decorations and the cost of boarding a pet if you’re traveling.
If you know that you’ve had trouble in the past, do a cash-only Christmas. Set a limit, take that money out of your credit union or bank, and when that (money’s) gone, it’s over.
Plan To Use Credit Wisely
If you know you’re going to need to rely on a credit card to get you through the season, be smart about it. Consider choosing the card that has the lowest interest percentage rate or one that offers cash-back rewards or other perks that help you make the most of your spending activity.
Put Yourself on Your Shopping List
It sounds selfish, but it’s really smart. There are things you would not have bought for yourself that you end up, on impulse, buying (for someone else). The best antidote is to give yourself a little something, too.
Start Saving and Buying Early
Who hasn’t run out for a gift at the last minute and ended up paying top dollar? But whether you’re shopping, baking or wrapping presents to send cross-country, budgeting your time can end up saving you tons of money. Start putting money away in January, that way you have enough saved up come November and December. If you see something for family or a friend earlier that year, make sure to buy it, and this way you don’t have to worry about them when the holidays arrive.
Plan Ahead for Next Year
Set up a holiday savings account and make monthly contributions to it, so that when the holidays roll around next year, you will already have money in the bank to cover expenses. You can start with something as small as $20 a month. Then, add to it every few months—after you review your budget and financial goals for the year. Saving for specific goals, including the holidays, is so much easier when you can have a clear vision in mind. With a little mindfulness and planning, the holidays can actually be enjoyable—as opposed to stressful and hard on the budget. Implement the tips that stay the most with you, and have a very happy holiday season.