The most wonderful time of the year is here yet again. While most of us are feeling holly and jolly, our wallets are probably not so thrilled. Let’s be honest- no one likes a budget. But for most of us, budgeting is a necessity, especially if you’re saving to make a larger purchase down the line, such as a house, car or college tuition.
So how can you cut back and still spread cheer this holiday season? Here are a few tips that can help:
First things first, get into the holiday spirit- The point of a budget isn’t to ruin your holiday fun. Afterall, the holidays are all about slowing down and spending quality time with the ones you love. Don’t stress about finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Instead, put some time and thought into how you can help make their holidays memorable, whether it’s surprising a relative by coming home for the holidays, or reestablishing an old holiday tradition.
Set a limit for your holiday spending- Never spend money that you don’t have available to you, or that should be designated toward paying bills. Start by making a list of everyone that you need to shop for this holiday season—including co-workers, clients, your children’s teachers, etc. Next, pick a dollar limit you’d like to stick with for everyone on your list. If money is tight this year, consider marking some people on this list as “card only” or homemade gifts, such as a holiday pie or a handmade ornament.
Start shopping early- For a stress-free shopping experience, the earlier you start, the better. You’ll have more time to research deals and shop around, and you’ll feel less pressure to get your shopping done.
Give the gift of time- Not all presents need to have a monetary amount. Giving the gift of time or support to a loved one during the holidays can be just as important. Volunteer to help mom make Christmas cookies, or help your brother wrap presents for his kids.
Compromise on other aspects of your budget. Like mentioned earlier, you should never spend money that you don’t already have in your bank account. You can, however, cut back on other aspects of your regular spending, such as your own clothing, food and drink or recreational spending to make room for your holiday spending.
Make it meaningful- While electronics or designer clothes are always a fun gift, they don’t have as much meaning behind them. A meaningful gift is something that the recipient will cherish and hold onto- like a framed photograph or a family heirloom.
Do your research- There are plenty of deals to be had this holiday season. Research different stores to help find the lowest price on your gifts, and don’t be pressured into buying something that’s not on your list just because it’s on sale.
Save your receipts- See if your sticking to your budget by saving all your receipts and reviewing them once you’re done shopping. Save your receipts for next year to give yourself an idea of how much you spent the previous year, then adjust your budget or your shopping habits based on that amount.
Lastly, don’t forget to budget for other holiday expenses, such as food and drink, transportation costs, gift wrap and cards, etc.
We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!
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