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Creating and Sticking to a Holiday Budget

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s a good idea to take some time and consider your spending situation. A lot of people spend quite a lot of money during the holidays, and some people spend more than they should. It’s pretty easy to go into debt with holiday spending. That’s why it’s crucial to create a budget.

Here are some tips for putting together a holiday budget as well as some advice to help you stick to it.

Tips for Preparing a Budget

  • Do it early
    • The earlier you can start putting together your holiday budget, the better. There are many reasons why. The first is that, the earlier you start preparing, the earlier you can start shopping. This gives you more time to comparison shop, more time to wait for sales, and more time to be a smart shopper. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be stuck paying whatever price is offered at that time for whatever items you can find. This is costly and will give you less bang for your buck.
    • As an added bonus, if you start setting your budget early, you give yourself more time to save. Think of it this way, if you start early, you can put aside a small amount of money each week (such as $20 or $30) and you’ll have a good size chunk by the time you start holiday shopping. However, if you wait until you only have a few weeks to save, you’ll need to put aside much more, which can be quite tough to do.
  • Know how much you have to spend
    • When you’re putting together your budget, think about how much money you actually have available to you and use this as a guide. Only count money that you will actually have. Don’t rely on credit cards or bonuses to pay for your holiday shopping. Work within the limits of what you’ll have to spend and try to find a way to afford everything you need under your budget. Be creative where you need to be. There could be some categories where you can trim spending.
  • Think about what you really need
    • Get specific with your budget. Don’t just classify things as “gifts” or “decorations.” Think about the exact items that you want to purchase and budget for each of them. This will help you if you need to make cuts.
    • Don’t forget to budget for things other than gifts and travel. If you’re planning on going to a holiday party (or hosting one yourself) there are likely costs associated with doing so. You may want to buy a new outfit or bring along a bottle of wine if you’re going to a party, and you’ll need to make sure you budget for these items. If you’re hosting a party, think about everything you’ll need to buy, not just food and drinks. Do you need extra plates, cups, and napkins? Are you going to want to buy decorations? If so, all of these items will need to be in your budget.

Sticking to a Holiday Budget

Once you have your budget, you’ll need to make sure that you stick to it.

  • Shop around
    • Remember that different stores have different prices. Don’t just check in the mall closest to you. Instead, shop around at various stores, check online for deals, and do whatever you can to get the lowest prices.
  • Look for alternatives
    • Sometimes the exact item you’re looking for is quite expensive, but something that is nearly identical can save you money. If you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, see if you can find some less expensive alternatives to the items you want to buy.
  • Do research
    • Not only do you want to do some research into the products you’d like to buy, but you should also research stores. Some stores offer discounts on particular days, some offer price matching with competitors, and some hold regular sales. If you spend some time researching store and prices, you’ll be much more likely to snag some serious savings.