Christmas is coming! Here are 10 holiday budgeting tips I want to share with you to better track your expenses and still prioritize what's necessary.
If you're anything like me, your budget is already feeling the pinch from all of the other holiday expenses.
Between buying presents, hosting parties and getting together with friends, it's easy to lose track of where that money is going. That thing is real , you know, and it's no fun.
When is Budgeting for the Holidays Necessary?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you're planning on celebrating the holidays this year, that means that you have some budgeting to do.
The cost of hosting a party for your family and friends can be quite large, especially if you'd like to have a nice dinner or drinks with everyone. You might feel stressed about having enough money to get through the holiday season while still being able to give gifts without going too far over your budget.
How Can I Stick to My Christmas Budget?
It's helpful to start budgeting for presents early so you don't get overwhelmed when the time comes. You want to be sure to set aside money for everyone, including yourself, your spouse or partner. If you return any unopened gifts then it's like the money never left your bank account in the first place.
Set a monthly allowance for holiday spending. The more consistent you are with this allowance the easier it is going to be come December 26th. Dragging out shopping trips can take up all of your time , and will likely end in overspending if you aren't careful.
If you're married, try to work with your spouse if you each want different things for the holidays. You can compromise and split the costs of gifts, or just get what's absolutely necessary. If that means both of you are still getting some really awesome gifts, then it'll be worth it in the end.
Try to avoid impulse purchases. At least attempt to wait until after you've finished holiday shopping before buying any extras online, or picking up expensive items along the way. It's easy to get caught up in the moment when there are so many good deals out there, but don't give into temptation.
How Can Budgeting Tips Help?
Honestly, there are several ways that budgeting can help manage all of the expenses of this time of year. If you stick to certain tips then it shouldn't even be that hard at all! Here are just a few of the things that you can do to stay on track, and still get everything done.
So how exactly do you set up a proper holiday budget? In this article I'm going to go through some tried and true techniques that can help you minimize your spending as much as possible without even really noticing the difference.
10 Budgeting Tips for the Holidays
That said, you don't have to go into debt over the holidays in order to enjoy them! It's possible to celebrate without breaking the bank. I'm sure most people have their own methods of doing things, but here are a few tips that work well for me:
1. Set a Budget for the Holidays
The first step in any successful financial endeavor is setting up a plan. Now, you'll want to determine your holiday budget early. If you wait until the last minute to figure out what you can afford then it will be more difficult for you to stick with that limit.
Write down the amounts of money that you plan on spending, and how much money is left over. That will give you a clear picture of what you can spend, and where your priorities lie when it comes to holiday shopping! If there's some things that you'd like to do more than others, then budget accordingly so you don't go over any aspect of the holiday season.
2. Start Holiday Shopping Early
While searching out sales and bargains is fun, it's best not to wait until the last minute in order to get started. Keep an eye on what's going on in your favorite stores while also looking for deals online. The sooner you start shopping around though, the better since prices tend to go up as we get closer and closer to December 25th.
If you have a set idea in your mind of what you want to buy then just stick with that list! It's so easy to get distracted when there are so many other great deals out there, but you don't want to overspend on things when it isn't necessary. Your budget should be built around the items that matter most to you, so try not to stray from the plan.
3. Save Money by DIY-ing Gifts
A lot of people have the misconception homemade gifts are only for close relatives. Sure, that's one way to go about it but you'll find that most people appreciate DIY-ed presents just as much. You can also give these gifts out to your coworkers, teachers and even neighbors.
A key element of successful budgeting is knowing yourself. That means asking yourself how important it is that the gift be homemade versus going out and buying a cheaper or more expensive item that you or the intended recipient could easily get from a store. Figuring this out ahead of time will help you decide whether or not making a present is really worth it for you.
4. Buy Presents Online
While convenience typically comes at higher prices, there are some online retailers who have worked hard to keep their costs low so you can enjoy lower prices as well.
Buying your holiday gifts online is easy, and there are plenty of retailers who will try their best to give you the best deal possible. Give them a chance since they might have some awesome products at amazing prices right now.
5. Decide on a Gift Exchange Policy with Friends and Family
If you're hosting a holiday party then it's best to ask everyone to bring one gift instead of several. Not only is this better for your wallet but it will also cut down on the amount of time spent wrapping presents.
Another thing is to determine early on what kind of gifts you would like to receive instead of figuring it out when the time comes. This will make shopping for each other much easier, and can even help you save money since everyone knows in advance what type of gift they should get.
Grouping together with family members or friends is an easy way to lessen your spending during this holiday season without any hassle whatsoever. It might even be a better experience than trying to buy presents for everyone one-by-one! And if you're not looking forward to seeing someone then why not combine that person's present into someone else's?
6. Shop at Thrift Stores
Even if your family doesn't have a history of shopping at thrift stores, you may want to consider starting that trend this year. You can buy all sorts of name brand items from these stores for mere pennies where they would normally cost 5-10 times more.
Buying at thrift stores can significantly lower your holiday budget, and if you're lucky you could be the person who uncovers the next designer trend for a fraction of what it would normally cost.
7. Don't Give In to Impulse Buys
The holidays can be very tempting to splurge money. You'll often see items at their lowest prices and, if you don't have much self-control, you could end up spending far more than you intended.
Remember, the only reason retailers are putting holiday sales on right now is so you will buy things. It's easy to fall into their trap of catching a fantastic sale but it isn't always the best option. Sometimes it's better to save your money and buy that item at full price later when there aren't as many people shopping around looking for deals.
The thing about buying impulsively is that, even though it might seem like a great idea at the time, you generally regret doing so once the holidays have passed and you finally open up those presents. In fact, research has shown that people feel more negative emotions after spending money on something they didn't really want or need than if they spent nothing at all! So try not to give in to the need to buy something immediately, especially if its' not on your holiday gift list.
8. Be Careful When Shopping Online
While online shopping is convenient and fairly inexpensive, it's always possible for someone to hijack your computer by sending out links via email that will lead to viruses or other malware. To avoid this from happening then make sure to do all of your holiday shopping on a family member or friend's machine, not in public places such as coffee shops, and only sign into the accounts related to these purchases once you're done. Also, try not to visit any sites that aren't secure.
Always be intuitive when shopping online. If you have a weird feeling about a site then don't use it. Instead, search the Internet for similar sites that are more legitimate and try to buy from those instead. Not only will this help protect your computer but it can also keep you safe from viruses, hackers, and other problems that are out there just waiting to trip you up with one wrong click of the mouse.
9. Haggle With Salespeople
Let's say you're in the market for a new TV and while walking down the street, you come across someone selling one. You like it but before you make an offer, what do you do? Do you listen to their first price or do you try your luck at haggling or negotiating back and forth until both parties eventually agree upon a price?
While not everyone is aware of this tactic, many salespeople are willing to drop their prices if they sense they're dealing with someone who knows how to sweet talk them into better deals.
10. Use Coupons When Shopping Online
If there are any sites that you particularly like then sign up for their newsletter and/or rewards account. Most of these retailers allow customers to print out coupons which can be extremely useful since they'll often offer small discounts off specific purchases.
These deals, coupled with free shipping offers and reward programs, will help you save more money than if you bought the items at another time or from another store.
Now that we've gone through all 10 of our budgeting tips, it's your turn to take action. Just remember, budgeting is something that takes practice. You have to learn where your money goes in order to make changes. But once you get started it gets easier over time, so never give up.
Read the Entire Holiday Financial Series
- 4 Easy Steps to Surviving Christmas Loans
- 8 Real Ways to Make Extra Money After the Holidays
- 6 Tips That Will Help You Recover From Holiday Spending
- How to Pay for Christmas When You Don’t Have Any Money
- Turn Budgeting from Necessity into Smarter Spending Habits
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.