I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a tendency to approach the holidays like a wild animal being released from its cage. Just like a kid in a candy store, I’m all over the place. With sales and deals and parties, how can you not be? It took a while for me to learn ‘tis the season to be responsible with my budget.
Many of us are left feeling overwhelmed by the business of the holidays. Between family get-togethers, traveling, school breaks and various functions, it’s a lot to juggle. While we’re supposed to be having fun, if we aren’t organized things can quickly go south. Planning a budget is not very glamorous or exciting, but a necessity if we want to avoid spending over our limits.
On top of buying gifts, our holiday budget also includes food costs, going out costs, extra drinking costs, and all of the other festive accouterments in which we are obliged to partake. Thank goodness the internet is full of lists like this one: 5 Ways to Manage your Holiday Budget.
1 – Organize your shopping list
I’m not saying to start judging who is naughty and who is nice. But make a list and check it twice. You want to show people you care but not so much that you’re going to be scrounging for groceries come the new year. Carefully evaluate who you have on your list and how much you can afford to spend on them.
You want to give your loved ones thoughtful and meaningful gifts, but you don’t want to break the bank. Start on your list early, like before Thanksgiving. This will give you plenty of time to consider who and what you have on your list. And because you are the responsible person you are and you made your holiday shopping list early, you can space out those purchases. This will help ease the financial strain of the winter holidays and also give you more flexibility with your budget.
2 – Keep careful track of all your expenses
Sure, it may be fun to just throw caution to the wind. But, you’ll likely end up with only short-term satisfaction and a financial quagmire to clean up. Be smart. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit of a Scrooge when it comes to keeping track of your expenses. By all means, still, be generous and joyful. But also keep careful track of every penny you spend. The more closely you are watching your wallet, the less likely you are to go over budget.
When you are planning your budget, be sure to remember to include all of your expenses. This encompasses your regular bills as well as your shopping and holiday expenses. You don’t want to neglect your regular financial obligations for the sake of the holidays.
3 – Think outside the box
Maybe not completely out of the box, but consider the alternatives. Do you have an especially large extended family that gets together? Consider doing a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange. That way, no one feels obligated to purchase something for everyone and no one gets left out. These types of exchanges are often fun and more kind to your budget.
If you have a family who likes to get out and about together, look into investing in a shared experience. Get traditional with it and go caroling or volunteer somewhere if that’s your style. Maybe going to a Christmas show or viewing some holiday lights together would be more up your alley. The point is, the holidays are about giving but also about just being together.
4 – Stay diligent and smart
You spent all this time and energy formulating your holiday budget, now stick to it. Only buy the things on your list. If you know you are the type who will need to do a little spontaneous spending, account for that in your budget. Remember, there are ways to shop smartly during the holiday season and they don’t include going all out on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Do your research and keep an eye out for good deals. Check multiple sites for prices.
Making plans will also help you avoid the temptation to buy yourself gifts too. Yep, I’m looking at you. I know you like to rationalize that present for yourself because you’ve been so good at buying for others. Don’t do it! Treat yourself after the New Year, when you see all the money you saved by being responsible with your holiday budget.
5 – Consider alternative sources of funding
Sometimes we need a little extra help covering our expenses for the holidays. Instead of grabbing that high-interest credit card or dipping into your savings, you have other options. You can visit a site like Lendvious and literally window shop for personal loans without affecting your credit score.
Because unsecured personal loans often boast a lower interest rate than your credit card, you can save money by avoiding the plastic. And that fixed-rate will make budgeting easier in the upcoming year. This gives you the option to buy what you want now and pay for it over time. And applying for a loan early will ensure you won’t be stressing about funds over the holidays.
Remember, you can have fun during the holidays while also being practical. Don’t feel obligated to go over-the-top with your spending. Set limits and stick to them. This is why you are reading a list of how to manage your holiday budget. Because you want to keep it all reined in. And the first step to having a financially stress-free holiday is planning your budget ahead of time.