The holidays are fast approaching, and so is the season for spending. Many people find this a stressful time, because they know they will end up spending more than they can afford. Here are some ways to reign in your spending this season.
Set a budget
Before you begin making lists, planning and shopping, decide how much you want to spend this holiday season. Don’t forget to include other holiday expenses in your budget, such as extra food for holiday meals, entertaining out of town guests and travel. If you already have a holiday savings account, you are way ahead, because that is your budget. Once you have a budget, stick to it!
Make a list
Make list of each person you want to buy gifts for, and how much you want to spend each person. You can hand-write your list, or use a spreadsheet, an online financial management tool or an app to help you set up a spending limit. This list needs to fit into your overall holiday spending budget. If it doesn’t, cut down on what you spend on some or all people on your list, or even eliminate some.
Don’t let sales control you
If you plan on shopping Black Friday, be cautions. This event often takes advantage of the emotional response of consumers to seemingly great bargains. However, just because something is on sale or is a great bargain, doesn’t mean you need to buy it. If the sale item is on your list, great! But if it isn’t, don’t buy it – you will end up overspending.
Don’t buy everyone gifts
If, when you are making your spending list, you can’t fit everyone in, consider just sending a greeting card to some instead of a gift. Or, opt to give some people homemade goodies or handmade ornaments. One way to trim down your holiday shopping list is to only buy gifts for the children.
Open a new savings account
Consider opening a special savings account just for holiday expenses at a financial institution like White Sands Federal Credit Union, and don’t spend more than what you have saved. Fill it up throughout the year with spare change or weekly transfers from your checking account. If you haven’t saved enough money by this time of year, consider cutting back on other discretionary spending like entertainment and dining out, for the next two months to boost your cash reserves. Make sure you open one now for next year. It really does take a lot of the stress off the holidays.