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  • Writer's pictureChris Lennox

Budgeting Tips for the Holidays

The season of giving is around the corner, which means the season of spending is right there too. Creating a budget (and sticking to it) is one way to help reduce the financial stress you might feel around this time of the year. Planning out your purchases can help keep you from overspending and falling into debt.

While it can be tempting to go crazy and get everyone on your list something extravagant, it’s not worth breaking the bank or your budget for. To help you stick to your plan and minimize the stress, check out these holiday budgeting tips.

1. List out your holiday expenses

Start by listing out what your anticipated purchases are. Everything from what gifts you need to buy, to cards, wrapping paper, and other supplies.

Getting a basic idea of what you’ll be spending your money on, besides gifts, can make you feel better about your spending and you won’t be left wondering why money is tight come the New Year.

2. Set a spending limit

Establishing how much money you have available to spend during the holidays is key. When determining this amount make sure you’re only using money that’s been specifically set aside for the holidays or extra money that you can find in your budget.

Spending with a plan to pay for it later (i.e. putting everything on credit cards) is never a good idea and can lead to you spending more than you have budgeted for.

3. Create a shopping list

Before you head out to shop planning ahead can help avoid overspending and allow you to take advantage of some of the large seasonal sales being offered. It also means you can be in and out of the store (where permitted) more quickly.

Consider having 1-2 ideas within your price range for each individual. It may also be helpful to budget and purchase a couple of generic gifts to have on hand. They’re perfect to give if you unexpectedly receive one or forgot to buy for someone.

4. Track what you buy

Besides having a list with you and crossing off items as you purchase them, tracking the cost of the items is equally important. Subtracting what you’ve spent from your overall holiday budget will let you know how well you’re doing at sticking to your budget. This also helps make it easier for the following year since you’ll have a better idea if there are any adjustments to be made and where to make them.

5. Online shopping

While an easy way to shop (and what most are doing during Covid-19), online shopping can also be an easy way to overspend. When all you need to do is press a button to “Purchase Now” it can be difficult to determine what you really need from what you want. Especially if there are special online only sales and discounts. Following the above tips when you’re shopping online will help you stick to your budget and prevent you from spending over your limit.

Whether you’re preparing a budget specifically for the holidays, creating one for the first time, or are a well-seasoned budgeter, creating a plan for your holiday spending will keep your stress level down. It will also minimize the amount of overspending and help keep you from generating additional (unnecessary) debt.

An important thing to take away is that these tips extend beyond your holiday shopping. The Covid-19 pandemic has left us at home more than ever right now and that means the increased consumption of our everyday essentials like food, heat, and water on top of everything else. Having a budget and spending plan in place can minimize the financial stress you may feel when emergency situations, like Covid-19, take place. Whether you’re planning for the holidays or creating a new budget, be prepared and take the step towards financial wellness.

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