Top Tips to Stay on Budget this Holiday Season
Holidays come with lots of glam and glitter and an overall festive mood. Commercials, bells ringing, and special events create lots of excitement. Most of us can’t fathom going through ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ without doing something special. But “something special” may end up stressing you out by costing you more than you can afford.
This year’s overall holiday spending is expected to be up 6% per person on average, but wealthier shoppers are expected to increase spending by 15% according to a survey by PwC.
If you are concerned about your finances and looking for ideas how to stay on budget this holiday season, we have some useful tips on how to trim your holiday expenses and stay on budget even as you enjoy the festivities of the season.
Create a Budget that Fits Your Needs
The first step to having an awesome holiday without incessant spending worries is to design a budget that will fit your needs. Don’t be impulsive about it. Take stock of your finances and decide on a suitable budget that you can spend on your holidays responsibly, without sinking into debt or depleting your savings.
Be cautious of purchasing luxuries that you can ill afford. Be creative about the choice of your wants and do some bargain-hunting. These simple steps will help stretch your dollars. It is important to be realistic about what you can afford.
To begin, look at your budget and determine how much you are able to spend without digging into your savings. If you need to cut back on expenses to afford the holiday you’d like, look into your discretionary expenditures and see where you can cut back.
Make a List
The next step is to create a to-do list that will help keep you on track. A list could include things such as the places you plan to visit, everyone you are planning to buy gifts for, the parties and festivities you are planning on organizing or attending, travel-related expenses and more.
Take a few days to prepare your list so that you do not leave out any important details. Go through your list and enumerate the cost of each activity or item that you are planning to spend money on during the festivities. Here, you may need to cross off some items, re-allocate money to some, cut back on some expenses and so forth in order to balance your budget.
Embrace Savvy Shopping
Smart shopping is an art. Done well, you will find yourself squeezing in savings in some surprising places. There are numerous ways through which you can save money by shopping smart. For example, you can access various online bargain-hunting sites. Here are some savvy shopping tips:
- Book your holiday travels during the off-peak days.
- Consider booking a future trip for a non-peak period, and give the gift of that trip during the holidays.
- Save with group-buying websites such as Groupon and Living Social. Many travel websites and agencies also offer incredible deals on group-buying purchases that could save you a lot of money.
- Take advantage of coupons. Many of the large anchor stores offer additional savings coupons if you are on their email list.
- Use cash-back websites to earn some extra percentages back on your shopping.
- Take advantage of reward programs or loyalty points for some extra savings on your flight, car rental or hotel bookings.
Go for Less Expensive Holiday Traditions
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a festival of high luxury. It can still be special without the shimmer and glimmer. Costly gifts are a financial burden that you can easily avoid. What is your festive tradition? Does it include large family gatherings, extravagant gifts, parties and a hop to some exotic island location?
Might you consider some alternatives and create new traditions?
- Do a ‘StayCation’ and visit the festive highlights in your own city
- Volunteer at a shelter or food pantry
- Bake together as a family
- Host a potluck
- Make your own holiday crafts
- Visit a local performance such as a high school choir or local theater
- Have a ‘tasting’ party where each guest brings some version of the same item to taste test.
Know When to Stop
Don’t go on and on in your holiday spending. Know when to stop shopping. Instead of an all-out splurge on gifts for everyone, perhaps designate gift giving from one specified family member to another rather than each person purchasing for multiple family members
Pick the priority areas that you want to focus on this holiday season. Prioritizing will help you focus on the most important experiences and keep you aware of what’s really most important.
Have a Long-Term Strategy to Pursue Cost Savings
The holiday season is just around the corner but it is always advisable to have a long-range strategy for planning holiday expenditures. Get a head-start by starting to save your money as early as possible. The earlier you start, the easier it is to set aside some money for holidays. This also makes it a lot more manageable. Consider having a fixed holiday budget and then spread the savings over 12 months.
Automate Your Savings
Open a savings account that is dedicated to your holiday plans and automate the saving process. With automation, you might even forget that you are saving money and are unlikely to feel the pinch of doing so.
With a little planning and strategy, you can still enjoy the holiday season while sticking to your budget. Keep your holiday shopping merry and your finances bright!