The holidays bring thoughts of gratitude and giving, family and friends, and endless shopping lists. With so many gifts to the buy, it’s easy to overspend and find your bank account dangerously low come January. Starting the holiday season with a solid plan to save where you can without skimping on gifts and holiday treats will cut down on stress and let you enjoy the holiday season.
- Recheck Your Regular Budget
Before you decide on how much money you have to spend on gifts, it’s a good idea to recheck your monthly budget. You may find there are areas where you have not budgeted enough while in others you have a little extra. By going over this budget first, you’ll be sure all bills and important expenses are covered. This will also let you know how much you have to spend on gifts, food, and travel expenses.
- Create a Gift Budget
Start by making a list of everyone, including neighbors, friends, family, your kids’ teachers, for whom you plan to buy a gift. Write down how much you want to spend for each person and stick to those numbers. With a concrete number in mind, you’re less likely to overspend. Creating this list beforehand also helps you from forgetting someone important.
- Plan for Holiday Extras
Holiday expenses often go beyond gift buying. There are holiday parties, travel expenses, and holiday baking that can catch your budget off guard. If you prepare for extra expenses in advance, you won’t be caught off guard.
- Track Your Spending
Now that you’ve budgeted for all those extra expenses, you have to keep track of where your money is going. Your budget won’t help you if you don’t hold yourself accountable. Many banks offer budgeting features online, and there are plenty of apps available to help you track purchases many of which allow syncing purchases in real time with your spouse.
- Draw Names for Extended Family Gifts
When you were single and only had one sibling with two children, buying gifts for nieces and nephews was no problem. But, as families grow, it can get pricey to buy gifts for everyone. It might be time to suggest drawing names instead of purchasing a gift for each person. It also allows you to spend a little more on one family member rather than spreading out the same amount of money on gifts for several people.
- Affordable Traditions Make the Holidays More Memorable
Traditions make the holidays special, but when they cause financial stress, it’s time to try something new. A change in circumstances such as adding a new baby to the family or job loss can dramatically affect how much money you have to spend. Traditions can be simple and still be memorable. Look for ways to create new traditions that fit in with your updated budget. An evening spent listening to holiday music while sharing family can be just as special as an expensive night out. A drive to look at Christmas lights, baking, or making holiday cards together can become traditions that help your bank account and build new memories.
Less Stress Makes for Happy Holidays
The holidays are a special time of year that should be enjoyed. When you start with a solid plan to save money, you set yourself up for success that leads to a happy holiday season.