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The holidays are around the corner and although it is my favorite time of year…I dread it at the same time. But not for the reason some do, I dread having to think about spending money. You need a clear idea of how Budgeting for the Holidays can save you money!
My kids start telling me about all the things they “have to have for Christmas”…you know they might not survive without it, lol!
It starts getting my nerves on edge because I see all the dollar signs add up!
But don’t worry…it is never too late to start your holiday shopping budget and get things planned out so you can take control of it before it takes control of you.
What To Do First
First, you want to look at your normal household budget. (If you don’t have one of these, try this easy budget for beginners to get started).
Take your existing budget and if you don’t already have a category for holiday spending, add one.
In your budget, you can look for extra places to cut from and add to the “holiday category”.
Figure out the dollar amount you can spend that won’t put you into debt. (If you start it early enough, you can add more money into the holiday saving category sooner).
Some of the items that you might want to include under your “holiday category” are
-Gift wrapping supplies
-Transportation costs (if you fly or drive out of town)
Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you are going to buy just yet, the key to this is to set money aside and figure out what you intend to spend.
You can make a list later on of how much you have to spend on each person or item.
Keep a Close Eye on Spending
Having a budget is worthless if you can’t categorize and keep track of what you spend.
You can get carried away when you are in the holiday spirit. I know I really like to buy gifts for other people. It gives me so much joy to be able to do it.
But my budget doesn’t always like my generous heart.
It is a good idea to have a separate account set up for spending. I have an account for “bills” and one for “spending”. This helps me make sure that I have the bill money ready. (my bank has free checking so this is a no brainer to have more than one account)
You can also start a savings account specifically for “Holiday Spending”. This can help you keep things separate.
Most banks will let you start one with a very minimal balance.
Just remember, it is super easy to over-spend. You can forget that you have something set up on auto-payment and then the next thing you know…your bank account looks rough!
So either keep the money separate or let your budget be your best friend.
Start Saving and Shop Early
It is always a good idea to go ahead and start making purchases now. I like to buy a few gifts each paycheck to help me spread it out. It’s much easier on my budget when I don’t wait until the last minute to shop.
Stores are getting ready for the holidays now, they have deals all the way up until Christmas.
Its a business…and they need you to shop now too so they are gonna offer up whatever it takes to get you in the store. You should take full advantage of it!!
If you don’t like to shop early, you can start setting the money aside that you have budgeted for holiday shopping.
My kids are notorious for changing their minds so it’s very hard for me to buy everything early.
Every once in a while I will have a clear idea of what I am going to get and I can start searching for deals early.
If you have set money to the side, you can use it to buy your holiday “stuff”. Just put the money in envelopes labeled with each budget item and this will help keep you from over-spending.
Some people use this method in the grocery store to help them not over-spend. You can use this tactic for just about anything.
You can see the Grocery Budget Maker and find out how I was able to save a ton on my grocery bill each month!
Utilize Savings Apps and Coupons
There are so many apps out there that can be used. You can find one for just about every store you shop in…they offer tons of discounts and coupons
Use Ibotta to save on groceries and so much more. The other day I made an online purchase through Ibotta and I got money back by clicking through them onto the target website.
Sell Your Old Stuff
I used to hate when my mom would say “if you want Santa to bring you new toys…you need to get rid of some old toys to make room”. But as an adult, I think this is a wonderful idea and it can get you some extra cash.
You can use eBay, Poshmark, Facebook yard sale, Craigslist or have an old fashion yardsale. Doing this can get you the extra cash you need to add to your “holiday budget strategy”.
The extra cash can help ease your mind and the extra space will make you feel better about getting your house clean for holiday guests!
Give Something Up
If you have an entertainment category in your budget, you can give it up for a month or two so that you will have some extra money to throw into the holiday category.
Use Cash Back Cards
If you have to use a credit card for the holidays, make sure it has some sort of reward. I like to steer clear of this but sometimes it’s just unavoidable.
If you decide to use one, make sure you have a clear plan for getting it paid off after the holidays are over.
I hope you have a clear idea of how Budgeting for the Holidays can benefit you.
The holidays are one of my favorite times of year but it can be dreadful when you have to think about money. So just make sure you make a plan and be smart when executing your plan. This way you can have a great worry-free holiday and you can focus on important things like family!
What do you do to help you prepare financially for the holidays? Share your tips below!
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