The holidays can pose a lot of financial stress for everyone. We want to give our friends and family meaningful presents, but that often translates into spending more than we might have intended. Here are four simple tips to help you stay in budget during the Christmas season.
1. Plan Ahead for Christmas
One of the biggest financial mistakes people make during the holidays is not budgeting in advance. Begin by creating a detailed budget of all the money you anticipate spending during the holidays.
This includes not just gifts but decorations, meals, and parties too. You may have to buy a small gift for a Secret Santa gift exchange or a white elephant party and you will also need to plan on giving an extra tip to people like your doorman or hairstylist.
You can approach this budget the same way you’d approach any other. The goal is to create an estimate and then stay within your means. You can set up a separate account where you put in a little money from each paycheck towards Christmas purchases. You can follow a three or four-month plan so you have a certain amount set aside by December 25th.
2. Shop Smart
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are no longer limited to just those days. Retailers have recognized the power of online sales and now extend their holiday deals well before and after the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday dates.
If you do intend to hit the stores on Black Friday, shop smart. Don’t go into the store alone. It’s safer to work as a group to get the deals you want. You may consider scoping the store a day or two before the big day to get an idea of the layout. This is so you can make a quick exit if things get chaotic. People do get seriously hurt on Black Friday.
If you intend to avoid the madness and shop exclusively online, that involves some planning too. Put together your list in advance and research the prices. This will help you distinguish a good deal from a mediocre one. Ten dollars off a $100 purchase is not a lot, but $250 off a $1,000 TV is major. Take your time searching for coupons. There are whole websites devoted exclusively to Cyber Monday coupons.
3. Track Every Purchase
Bring your shopping list everywhere you go. Add up as you go along. It’s empowering once you begin to see clearly where your money is going and when. You might consider operating on a cash-only system. You might be tempted to overspend if you use a credit card.
4. Take a Side Job
Consider taking a side job to cover your holiday expenses. This can be a temporary solution if you’ve budgeted but money is still a little tight. You’re not limited to working a seasonal retail job, either. There are ways to earn money online, and plenty of coffee shops and grocery stores want to hire extra staff during the holiday season.
Budgeting for the holidays has a reputation for being stressful, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Planning ahead arms you with the tools you need to make smart purchases. When Christmas rolls around, you’ll be able to sit in front of that roaring fire with a smile on your face and relax. Be sure to follow Eastex for more tips on balancing your financial side of life.