The holiday season is well known for being a merry, happy and festive time for Americans. Whether you’re sharing the holiday with friends or family (or both), Christmas season and Christmas Day itself is universally recognized as a time of giving gifts to your loved ones. However, while shopping for the perfect gift may be an exciting experience for some, it can also potentially lead to overspending if one doesn’t have a clear budget lined out for their shopping and gift giving.
Keeping a budget throughout the year is important, but during a time where your spending may increase, it’s even more important to keep your budget in line and try to not go over your monthly limits. Here are a few tips on staying on top of your money during this festive season:
Acknowledge your commitments during this season.
In this context, “commitments” include the gifts you give the people in your life, such as teachers, your postal worker, or co-workers, transportation costs (if you are leaving your town); wrapping paper and Christmas cards, charitable donations; and holiday get-togethers during the season. These costs aren’t always considered right away, and in making a budget for holiday spending, such costs should be
Set a solid budget.
Whether you’re using a pad and paper or an online spreadsheet, take the time to outline your income and your regularly monthly payments (mortgage, bills, tuition), and include what you know you’ll need to spend for the holidays. Take the commitments mentioned above and assign a realistic dollar amount to it, to the best of your ability, as well as what you expect to spend on gifts for your family and friends. Make sure to keep a buffer in your budget in case you need to spend a little extra cash. The holiday season can be a stressful time, and knowing how much you plan to spend can ease some of that stress.
Continue to save throughout the holiday season.
The month of December can be a bit extravagant for many people. Even with a budget, the temptation of ignoring your savings can make your the budget you create more difficult to manage. However, it’s imperative to save what you can during this time. You don’t need to go all out and spend a ton of money, and scoping out good sales can allow you to put what you saved on an item right into your savings account.