Budgeting for the Holidays

The holiday season is finally upon us and, this year especially, financial constraints can put undue stress on your festive spirit. Gift giving, decorating, and countless meals ahead can burn a hole in your wallet, but budgeting for these expenses in advance eases the stress and burden of the holiday season on your bank account. To help alleviate some of that stress, here are a few tips to keep in mind when budgeting for the holidays.

Set a limit (and stick to it)

You know what you can afford when it comes to holiday shopping. Before you determine what you can spend on everyone on your list, first decide what your overall budget is. How much are you willing to spend this holiday season? How much can you afford to spend?

When you set a budget before all else, you prevent the all-too-common issue of allotting too much money in the first place. Setting up a dollar amount from the start of what you can afford allows you to then work smaller and set a budget for each person on your gift list, every event you have to purchase food for, and all your holiday decor.

Bottom line? Your budget will reflect your bank account and what you can realistically afford instead of your desire to go all-in beyond what’s financially possible.

Spread out expenditures

Plan ahead. If you space your holiday spending out throughout the month of November and December, you can avoid relying on credit cards and instead make purchases over time when your pay periods allow.

The end of the year comes with many financial responsibilities, and if you don’t plan accordingly, those costs can accumulate, leaving you in a pile of debt—which is not the happiest way to start the new year. If you’re able to spread out your spending across your paychecks for the next month or two, begin planning what that looks like so you can avoid any surprises down the road.

Shop the sales

Most years, Black Friday is the key time to accomplish most of your shopping due to the giant sales with hard-to-beat deals. This year, however, the pandemic has changed what our annual sales look like. For most retailers, Black Friday has actually become a month-long online event in an effort to prevent mass congregating in stores on Thanksgiving weekend. You may also want to sign up for mailing lists at your favorite stores, as many deals will be announced in email marketing messages this year.

Try Not to Overdo It

When it comes to holiday shopping, going overboard is all too easy. Whether your downfall is overspending on a loved one or loading up your shopping cart with holiday decorations at Target, overdoing it is a pitfall that will cost you when it’s time to pay the bills.

While it’s easy to get a little carried away, writing up a list (and avoiding deviations from that list) can help keep your spending on track. If you have some extra time, try Googling the items you are looking for and see if you can get deals elsewhere on the internet.

The holiday season is stressful enough without the added burden of credit card debt. As you create your shopping lists for the upcoming holidays, keep these tips in mind—so you can enjoy the season without spending most of your time worrying about any surprises coming to your bank account.

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