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How to Budget for the Holidays

| October 10, 2019

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is a very real thing. With so much to celebrate and be excited for, there’s plenty of opportunity to spend money… and a lot of it. From gifts and decorations to holiday parties and dinners, this time of year is wonderful, but it can also be costly! There is a way to have the best of both worlds, and it starts with budgeting

For some, budgeting doesn’t have a pretty ring to it. The word itself can feel stifling and a bit overwhelming, depending on your personal experience. For others, budgeting has become a healthy discipline that is setting them up for the life they want to have in the future. 

No matter your experience, we’re here to tell you that budgeting works and is 100 percent necessary, especially during the holiday season! Our team is here to tell you why. 

5 Tips to Help You Spend Less This Holiday Season 

Getting wrapped up (no pun intended) in holiday spending is easy to do! We’ve all been there. Whether you’re an avid Black Friday shopper, or you prefer to do all of your shopping online from the comfort of your couch, the opportunity to spend carelessly is right in front of you. 

Last year, a Gallup report projected that US adults would spend around $885 on gifts during the holiday season. Some families may spend more, some may spend significantly less. The point is, spending is going to happen regardless, and we want to help set you up for success!

1. Set limits to your holiday spending.

We’re not trying to beat the same drum, but setting limits to your holiday spending is the most practical first step to take. There’s a difference between how much money your credit card allows you to spend, and what you can actually afford to spend. 

If you’re wanting to spend a little bit more on a loved one, find ways to spend a little bit less on things you normally buy. Bring your lunch rather than eating out, or hold back on buying that $5.00 vanilla latte a few mornings. Bottom line, try not to spend more money that you have.

You don’t have to completely deprive yourself, you just need to be more mindful about what you’re spending your money on so you can budget successfully.

2. Put your plan in writing.

After you’ve taken a look at your finances, and have figured out what you can afford to spend on each person, write it down or put it in your notes on your phone where it’s easily accessible. If you use a budgeting app, make adjustments to reflect your budget specific to holiday spending. 

You can always take it a step further and write down what you plan on buying for your family and friends (within budget), then track your spending as you start purchasing items. 

Technology makes tracking easy. Just as you may have the habit of checking social media, get into the habit of checking your bank account to responsibly track your spending. If you have a smartphone, you can access your bank account on your bank’s app anytime during the day. The more you track and hold yourself accountable, the more likely you are to stick to the budget!

3.  Don’t try and keep up.

While this may not be true for everyone, some people experience the tension to try and  “keep up” with family members or friends when it comes to spending money on gifts. 

Just because your brother or sister is spending $100 on a gift for you, doesn’t mean you have to try and match that. The last thing you want to do is strip the fun out of giving by stressing over what you can or cannot afford to do. One way to avoid this, with families especially, is by setting a spending limit that everyone agrees to. This could be anywhere from $5, $10, to $50. Another option is to draw names and only buy for the person you draw for. 

These sort of options are endless  -- it’s all about finding what works best for you and your family and friends!

4. Give the gift of time.

Sometimes the best gifts aren’t what money can buy. Spending time with your family and closest friends may be the most invaluable gift you give them! It never hurts to come bearing a small present or two for them to open, but giving them the gift of time will likely take the cake!

5. Leave no room for compromising.

As your holiday shopping comes to an end, and your checklist is made complete, be sure and leave NO room for compromising. Staying on budget is a win, and the last thing you want to do is compromise it blowing your budget on some last-minute shopping urges. 

Celebrate the win and get excited about giving those gifts that you worked hard for! 

Remember, holiday spending can be a slippery slope that many of us find ourselves on. It’s easy to fall into the trap, but not always easy to get out of it. But, there is hope! Creating a budget and making informed decisions about your spending will allow you to enjoy the holidays without worrying about overspending and dealing with the financial mess when they’re over.