Everyone needs to stick to a budget during the holidays. Whether you make a lot of money or a little, holidays on a budget keeps you accountable and helps you make smarter spending decisions.
This year especially, most of us need to stick to a budget, maybe even a stricter one as the pandemic continues. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it sounds with these simple tips.
You can’t do the holidays on a budget if you don’t know your budget. Look over your bank statements and current budget. How much do you have to spend?
If you have a sinking fund set up for the holidays, great, see how much you have in it. If not, look at your disposable income or see where you can cut back for the next two months to free up money for the holidays.
Make sure your budget includes money for gifts, decorations, food, entertainment, and any other holiday traditions you carry.
Once you set your budget, be clear with family and friends. Decide who you want (or can) exchange with and be honest about it. Don’t exchange gifts out of guilt. If you can’t afford it, find other ways to celebrate.
Handmade gifts, time spent together, or just a heartwarming card are enough to say, ‘I care about you.’ It’s not always about the money you spend.
Once you’re clear on you who you’re buying for, create a plan. Try shopping early so you spread out your spending. Don’t wait for Black Friday. It’s a myth that you only get the best deals then. If you look hard enough, you may find better deals long before the popular shopping day.
Even if you wait until November or December to shop, only shop sales and always look for coupons. Most people will shop online this year, making it easier than ever to find promo codes before checking out. Do a quick Google search for coupons for the store you’re shopping at and chances are you’ll find some great deals.
Tracking your spending is a key factor. You won’t know how much you spent or how much you have left to spend if you don’t track it.
Download a free spending app, keep your receipts and log the spending into a spreadsheet, or keep a quick list in your car. Choose the method you’ll use consistently.
Never go to the store without a list/intention. Walking into the store to ‘browse’ and see what grabs your attention never ends well. Walk in with a list and intended recipients. Don’t look at anything but what’s on your list this time.
Even if you see other items your recipient may love, stick to the list.
You don’t have to be a Scrooge to enjoy your holidays on a budget. Congratulate yourself for being responsible and making smart money decisions. Enjoy the little moments and things you can do and most importantly, keep your budget on track so you don’t feel the holiday hangover for months after they’re done.