Do You Have The Holiday Budget Blues?
Has this Christmas has been hard on your budget? Did you end up spending a lot more money than you had planned? The holidays can become stressful, tense and starting the New Year in bad financial shape can feel like a bleak prospect. This happens to a lot of us, and it can be really overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be like this next year.
These are our tips for a stress-free holiday season:
Rethink The Way You Gift
Gift giving is a complicated business. More often than not it can feel beyond your control. Between family, friends and coworkers your gift expenses can really rack up! If you’re overwhelmed by the number of presents you feel obligated to buy, it might be time to re-evaluate. Consider having a discussion with your family about how gift-giving is done. Perhaps suggest that next year everyone participate in a Secret Santa, or agree that big gifts should be reserved for children.
There are endless online sources for D.I.Y gifts. Home-made presents can be an excellent and cost-effective alternative to buying gifts. Baking or cooking are other budget friendly options. This alternative is especially great for office gift exchanges. Rather than spending money on trinkets that will probably end up collecting dust, or being re-gifted, give your friends the far superior gift of Christmas cookies!
January is a great time to get motivated! Start your Christmas shopping right away! Experts recommend buying one gift every month so that you don’t succumb to overspending in December’s crunch time. Creating a list and sticking to it over the course of a year will abate some of the frantic Christmas spending that can occur when you aren’t prepared.
You might also consider putting aside some money each month for other holiday related expenses, such as parties, food and travel. There is no denying that Christmas is an expensive time of year beyond gift giving! Setting a little money aside over a year can make a huge difference.
Pay Attention To Sales
Just like Halloween candy on November 1st, Christmas decorations go on clearance right after the big day. If you love to decorate and find that you tend to blow your budget on festive home adornments, consider shopping for these items in January when they are priced to clear. Keep in mind that just because something is on sale, that doesn’t mean you have to buy it!
If you already have ideas about what you want to get your loved ones next year, you can keep an eye out for the best price over the year instead of paying too much in December just to get it over with. Shop around online and look for deals, if you are on top of gift-getting early enough you won’t have to pay extra on costs like rush shipping!
Pay With Cash
Whenever possible, pay with cash. This is an important rule of thumb, because it can save you thousands of dollars in credit card interest. When you go overboard and rack up a huge credit card bill with holiday expenses, you end up paying a lot more than you should because of interest.
Set aside a certain amount of cash each month in an envelope starting in January. By next December you will have an easy Christmas budget. Knowing that this is the only money you have to spend on Christmas, it will be much easier to keep your spending under control. This method not only significantly reduces interest charges, but it can also help you to be more mindful when it comes to spending. Having a tangible budget allows you to see how much you have spent, and how much you have left. This is a great way to put a cap on spending.
Taking the first step can be challenging, but planning early and being prepared for the next holiday season will change your life! Experiment with what tips work best for your lifestyle, there are options for every budget. Next year, give yourself the gift of saving money!
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