How to Stay on Budget Over the Holiday Season
The holiday season is a happy time filled with celebrations, gatherings, gifts, and more. Unfortunately, it can also be a busy and stressful time. One reason for this stress is that the holidays can be very, very expensive. Between gifts, decorations, clothing, food, and much more, the holiday season can get incredibly costly.
Of course, if you overspend during the holidays, you’ll enter the new year with debt and that’s never an enjoyable way to start the year. Holiday debt can take a long time to pay off and you could end up paying a lot of interest on your debt. That interest can make it tough to afford other expenses and bills and the result can be a cycle of debt that is hard to escape from.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you create a holiday season spending plan and stick to it, you can stay on budget and avoid debt. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Most people can’t afford everything they want. Therefore, if you want to stay out of debt, you’ll need to make priorities. A good way to start this process is to write down everything you think you may want to purchase during the holiday season. Then, once you have your list, write estimated prices beside each item. If you add it up and it’s an amount that you can fit into your budget, that’s great! If it’s more than you can afford, you’ll want to prioritize your spending.
Everyone has certain aspects of the holiday season that are more important to them than others. For some people, it’s the gift giving. For others, it’s the big dinners or the fancy parties. When you’re deciding where to spend your money, think about what means the most to you. Then make a plan to afford the most important items even if it means you can’t have some of the less critical expenses. If you do this successfully, you’ll stay on budget and you won’t feel deprived, since you’ll still be getting what means the most to you.
Tracking spending is an essential part of staying on a budget. When you keep a record of what you spend, not only do you know where your money is going, but it also becomes easier to see if you’re sticking to your spending plan.
There are many different ways to track spending. Some people like to use apps on their phones. This is a popular option since your phone is almost always with you. That makes it easy for you to record your purchases as you make them. Tracking spending as you go is important. If you take note of what you bought and how much it cost shortly after you leave the store, you’ll be a lot less likely to forget something.
If an app doesn’t seem convenient or easy for you, don’t worry. There are other ways. You might want to make a spreadsheet on your computer, or you may decide to use a notepad and a pencil to write down what you spend. No matter how you do it, the important thing is to do it and to do it accurately and consistently.
Adjust as You Go
As you track your spending, you’ll want to compare what you spent with the estimates you wrote down on your budget. If you find that you’re spending more on certain items than you expected, you’ll need to adjust your plan. Otherwise, you’ll soon end up spending more than you can afford.
If you notice that you went over your estimate in one area, you’ll want to cut from another area so that your overall spending is still on budget.
Don’t Overdo It
Many of us have a tendency to go “all out” during the holidays. However, this isn’t just costly, but it can also be exhausting. You don’t need to buy and see and do everything to have a happy holiday season. Try to stick to the basics, spend time with those you care about, and take the opportunity to enjoy the season. Not only can this be more fulfilling and relaxing, but it can also help you avoid a big credit card bill in the new year, which is someone nobody wants.