Sticking to a budget is the best way to curb and control your spending, not just during the holidays, but ALL of the time! It’s especially helpful during this time of year, when gift-giving and celebrations are in abundance. It can be tempting to indulge a little, but going overboard now will only set you back financially in the beginning of the new year (and who wants that?!). Keep a few of these tips in mind to be sure you’re sticking to a plan that will set you up for spending success…
1. Plan ahead. Take into account what you typically spend around the holidays (consider gifts, holiday parties, meetings with friends, etc.) and add a line to your budget for just that. While it’s too late for this prep now, it’s a perfect time to prepare for next year, especially since the numbers you spent are fresh in your mind. Did you feel a little strapped for cash? Add a bit extra and divide that number up over 11 months. Setting aside a little at a time over the year will keep you on track for NEXT December!
2. Trim from other areas of your budget. Are there any items you can go without this month? Consider cutting back on a few lines (think of less vital things, such as money saved for entertainment or vacations) just for the month to allow yourself a little extra spending room.
3. Prioritize. Know your limits and where you want your funds to go. Is it important to you to be able to give more gifts, or would you rather save your money for going out with friends you haven’t seen in a while? If you’re able to fit everything into your holiday budget, great! If not, be aware of what and how you’re spending, and don’t be afraid to say “no”. *Helpful hint: Make this easier by spending cash instead of using a card. Use envelopes to divide up what you’d like to use it for, and only use the contents of that envelope when it’s time.
4. Ditch the expensive presents. Consider other options this year, no money required, such as volunteering your time or skills to help a friend, family member, or someone in need. It might be much more appreciated! Still feel the need to give something small and thoughtful? Check out more money-saving tips on gift-giving here!
5. Limit “self-gifting”. Let’s be honest… it’s hard to avoid making a few purchases of our own when we’re out shopping for others, especially if you’ve stumbled upon a good deal. Instead, create a “wish list” for yourself and maybe Santa will put anything you pass up under your tree!
6. Still don’t have enough money? Make some more! It’s fairly easy to pick up extra work around the holidays, mostly because everyone is looking for an extra hand to reduce as much stress as they can! Check and see if any stores have seasonal hours available to make a few extra bucks, or take on small odd jobs for anyone that seems super busy (i.e. wrapping gifts for family members, walking the neighbor’s dog, shoveling snowy sidewalks, etc.).
Are you guilty of overspending over the holiday season? What are some other ways you could better prepare your budget for the last few months of the year?