‘Tis the season of giving, which often means it is also the season of spending! Here’s some useful tips on how to stay on track this holiday season, rather than getting wrapped up in holiday spending!
Make no mistake about it: The holidays can be expensive, with each American expected to spend nearly $800 during the 2018 holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
While it’s perfectly fine to be in a generous mood, failing to create and stick to a spending budget can lead to out-of-control spending and a debt hangover that lingers well into the new year. Here are three tips to stay on track this holiday season.
1. Set financial expectations for total holiday spending
Give your credit card and your mind a holiday by mentally preparing what you need/want to buy and what can safely come out of your bank account. Setting expectations means that you need to be realistic about your finances and what you can afford to spend to accomplish your goals. How can you use your money wisely in a way that you can have the greatest return?
Think about it.
2. Craft your budget
No one wants to hear the word “budget” when it comes time to holiday shopping. Nevertheless, if you are in a financial crunch, this is exactly what you need to do. It’s time to create your master plan.
Start by creating your “naughty or nice” list on who you’ll be including in your buying strategy; Establish your list of recipients and the amount of money you can afford to spend on each person. This doesn’t mean charging everything to your credit card that you cannot pay off when it is due in January! This simply means setting a realistic limit and finding ways to accommodate the gifting in a way that won’t break the bank. Your budget should include:
- Presents and packaging
- Holiday dinners and parties
- Travel & accommodation
- Holiday photos and more
To save you time, download Excel’s budget planner template to manage your Christmas or other holiday spending. The difference between budget and actual spending is calculated for you!
3. Get creative with your $$$s
So you’ve made your budget planner, but the numbers still don’t add up – you’re coming up short. Instead of panic-buying and leaving the cash-flow problems until January, think of ways to make your money go further. Some ideas include:
- Be creatively thoughtful – A small, thoughtful gift is worth more than an expensive gift that someone may never use. Does your mom love baking? Instead of sending her on a lavish cookery course for hundreds of dollars, get her that pasta maker she’s had her eye on ($30) with a cook book on the best pasta dishes from around the world ($15).
- Get crafty – A nice moderately-priced bottle of wine decorated by you, a framed drawing that you painted in Kindergarten, or a double batch of your fantastic triple-chocolate cookies would surely bring a smile to most loved ones’ faces.
- Get charitable – We’re talking homemade volunteer vouchers! Babysitting vouchers for your sister’s kids, yard work for dad, house cleaning for mom. As trivial as this may sound to you, it’s a priceless gesture to them.
Set your expectations and your budget, get creative, don’t overdo it, and be merry.
Avoid giving yourself a year-round debt headache come January 1. And if you do get carried away despite your holiday budgeting, contact Total Loan Company – Our mission is to provide you with a solution that resolves or bridges your financial troubles for an extended period of time and to provide you with a convenient and dependable source for additional cash whenever you need it!