Every January you say you are not going to spend as much money the next holiday season and every December you end up right back where you started. If you didn’t follow rule number one in Holiday shopping (shop smart all year long) and you have some catching up to do, these tips will help you get into a new holiday tradition: staying on budget.
- It’s not just the gifts. When coming up with your budget don’t forget the entire holiday experience. Your budget needs to include decorations, food, wrapping supplies, travel, and postage, all the way down to extra electricity for those Christmas light displays. Include everything.
- Make a list and check it twice. When you get ready to buy gifts make a list of everyone you are buying for. List what gifts, or gift ideas, you have for each person and the amount of money you plan on spending on each. If the budget says $20 for Aunt Suzy’s new bathrobe and you find one for $19.99 that is over budget once you add the sales tax. Sticking to this list will help you stay focused and will also cut your shopping time because you have a plan.
- There is a good reason green is the color of Christmas. Leave the credit card at home. Shopping with cash and a budget will keep you from going into debt. Psychologically, cash is harder to spend than swiping a credit card. There is, however, a valid concern about carrying large sums of cash while shopping during the holiday season so debit or prepaid cards may be an option for you.
- You have your budget, list, and money, now you hit the stores. Are you getting your best price for your gift? Research prices on specific items or gift ideas before you head out to shop. Just because the price marked says sales price or special doesn’t mean that it is the best price. Research prices online before going out to shop. You may find shopping online gets you the better deal. Also don’t forget many online stores have free shipping or ship free to store which would sweeten the deal.
- Set everyone’s expectations. Tell family and friends about your budget and plan for gift giving. This way they will not expect an expensive gift and you won’t feel guilty about not giving it. This is especially true for children. If Santa can’t bring a new bike this year, maybe Santa can bring a little money to help them start saving for the new bike or that money may get you and them a better bike deal the day after Christmas.
Hopefully these tips will make staying on budget this holiday season as easy as falling off a Yule log. And you can use the extra time to do what matters most this Christmas, spending time with family and friends.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
*Image via The Record Herald.
I’m Heather McIngvale, a stay at home mom of four (two here and two in heaven). I enjoy couponing, cooking, gardening, and all things crafty. I also volunteer in my church and in my community, and started a foundation with my local hospital’s NICU on behalf of our stillborn twins. When I got pregnant with our last child in 2009, I started getting SERIOUS about couponing and saving money to supplement our budget. I was doing so well at couponing, friends would ask me my secrets. That is when I started Heather’s Hints and it all grew from there!