Budgeting for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year due to the financial pressures. Between the gift giving, holiday entertaining, and the regular monthly expenses, it all adds up to an expensive time of year!
When you budget for the holidays early, you’ll have a handle on your holiday shopping and spending throughout the season.
Benefits of a Holiday Budget
Keeping a budget during the holiday season will benefit you in many ways. First, you’ll avoid overspending, which will keep you from playing “catch up” when the season ends. Second, you’ll reduce financial stress throughout the holiday season, which will make the experience more enjoyable for you.
A couple of simple budgeting practices during the next few months will have a positive impact on your holiday spending, which can help to prevent you from going overboard or becoming overwhelmed.
Try these holiday spending budget strategies to ease financial tension during this hectic season:
- Create a budget. Determine how much money is available for you to spend based on your current financial situation. Be realistic with your holiday spending budget, regardless of how much or little you can play with. This is your spending limit, and your goal is to stay within it.
- Remember that your expenses must be less than your income. There’s no need to ge into extensive debt because of the holidays.
- Make a list. List everyone that you need to furnish a gift for so you can create a realistic plan to accommodate your gift-giving needs. Keep everyone in mind, including family members, friends, and anyone else you want to give a gift to, such as neighbors or other acquaintances.
- Create a budget worksheet. Create a basic budget worksheet on paper or on your computer. List every gift recipient in one column. Create a column to brainstorm ideas, a column for your planned budget for each recipient and a column for how much you actually spent on each person. Track overall budget and actual spending as well to see how you do at the end.
- Tweak as necessary. Make changes to your budget whenever you overspend on one person so you stay within your budget overall.
- Try to set realistic budget amounts for each of the recipients on your worksheet in order to minimize the need for edits to your worksheet, but do not be afraid to make edits as necessary.
- Trim as necessary. Giving gifts to your neighbors, your children’s teachers, and service providers like the mailman is a nice sentiment, but not necessary. If your budget cannot support your list of recipients, trim the list!
- Consider giving stocking stuffer type gifts to these recipients if you insist on giving them something for the holidays. Small gifts, inexpensive homemade gifts, or simple greeting cards or ecards are just as sentimental and memorable but will not break your budget.
- Start early. When working on a budget, starting early offers a definite advantage. The more time you have to get your shopping done, the more time you have to comparison shop, shop sales and look for deals. Avoid leaving your shopping until the last moment; otherwise you’ll likely pay higher prices and spend more time feeling aggravated in the lineups.
Get a Handle on Your Spending
It only takes a few simple changes in your spending and budgeting habits to improve your holiday shopping experience. By starting early and following a plan, you can overcome the obstacles of holiday shopping, budgeting, and spending with ease. Enjoy your holidays!