We know that preparing for the 2011 holiday season takes plenty of time and money. This year, don’t let holiday spending get the best of you. Take control of your finances by following these simple steps.
Create a Budget:
A budget will give you a sense of perspective and control, allowing you to think through gift choices and maintain financial well-being heading into 2012.
- Determine the total amount you can comfortably spend on gifts, decorations, social events and other holiday-related items, such as charitable donations.
- Allocate a certain amount to each expenditure category, leaving a small sum left over as a buffer.
- In the case of gifts, write down all the people you would like to purchase presents for, and allocate a certain portion to each individual.
- Do research to find gifts that match your designated price points. If you’re buying things online, don’t forget to account for shipping costs.
Keep Track of Your Spending:
Even if you’ve created a budget, it’s easy to overspend. To avoid falling prey to wishful underestimating, take along a holiday spending notebook or use your computer to develop an expenditure spreadsheet. Record each purchase, organizing items into the same categories you utilized in your budget. The cold hard facts that come with tracking as you go will help you to avoid overspending.
Steer Clear of Credit:
The last thing you need heading into the New Year is a credit card bill you can’t pay off. If you want to use credit, do it with care. Plan to use credit sparingly, so that you’re able to pay off the bill in full when it arrives. And avoid giving into those offers for store cards. Having too many credit cards can negatively impact your credit rating.
Procrastination never seems to be a good thing, and in the case of holiday spending, it could end up costing you significantly more. Planning and buying gifts early is the best way to save money. If you wait until the last minute, you could end up feeling pressured and frantic, which easily equates to overspending. Similarly, thinking ahead can save your big bucks when it comes to shipping. If you have relatives or friends who live out of state, make sure you head to the post office as early as possible. Otherwise, you could end up spending more to ship the gift than you do on the gift itself.
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly:
Don’t forget to plan for extra socializing during the holiday season. Social events mean extra spending on food, drinks and clothes.