6 Tips to Prepare for Holiday Spending
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The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone in the family financially. From Christmas play outfits, to work holiday parties, to large family get-togethers, there are always unforeseen expenses during the holidays. So, plan early. Here are six ways to prepare for holiday spending and start the new year without a lot of debt or guilt.
- Write your top three priorities for the holidays.
Is it: Family time? A big-ticket item on your son’s list? Giving to a favorite charity? Let everyone in the house collaborate on the list. It’s important everyone be on the same page to stay focused and have a holiday season you’ll all remember fondly.
As the season begins, this will be your plumb line to weigh your holiday spending decisions on. If you said spending more time as a family is important, then maybe you’ll turn down overtime hours offered at work (if that overtime paycheck was only going to extras and not needs).
Or, if charitable giving is most important, maybe you cut some bigger ticketed items on your list to ensure you’re able to give as a family to a worthy cause.
Naming these priorities may mean you need to make sacrifices, but if it fits into your goals, you may not even notice, knowing you’re achieving what’s most important to your family.
CAUTION: Your priorities may not be the same as another family’s and that’s OK. Don’t allow comparison to keep you from achieving your holiday goals.
- Set a budget that matches your priorities and bank account.
Now, look at your bank account and match those numbers to this season’s priorities. If charitable giving is your priority, do you need to think about giving time and talents instead of money? Or, do you want to give donations instead of gifts?
As you decide on your budget, write it down.
There are many free applications to use to help you keep track of your spending. If you decide to use an app, make sure you never give out your bank account information. Strictly use it as a tool to track your total spending balance to keep your information and bank account secure.
Our MobiMoney app can help you keep an eye on your spending. Plus, if you lose your card or you fear someone is using it for unauthorized purchases you can instantly turn off your card. Click below to learn more about our app services.
- Make necessary changes to holiday giving.
Give too many gifts every year? Then it may be time to make some changes. This can be hard because some family members may be very attached to certain traditions. However, if the pace doesn’t fit your family’s lifestyle then it’s time to be honest and suggest some manageable changes.
For instance, you might decide on a spending limit as a family. Draw names instead of giving everyone in your family a gift. Or, decide on giving an experience you can all enjoy together.
Remember, you don’t have to change everything about your holiday traditions, just tweak them so they better fit your budget and priorities.
- Make a gift list early and don’t veer from it.
Let’s be honest, this is probably the hardest one to keep. You make a list; you check it twice and as soon as you walk into the store or open that sale email… you forget the list exists.
So, this might be where it’s good to shop with a partner. Keep each other focused on the list. And, if you find an awesome deal on something you hadn’t thought of before, it doesn’t mean blow your budget. Be flexible and ready to sacrifice something on your pre-made list so you can stay under budget all season long.
This tip is one that’s easily ignored and probably one of the top reasons why many families exceed their budget. Stay focused, track your expenses and stick to your list.
Pro Tip: Before you check out, re-evaluate. Just because it’s in your cart (online or in store), doesn’t mean you have to purchase. Look back at your list. Check your budget, and if you recognize an impulse, unnecessary buy, then don’t be afraid to put it back on the shelf.
- Remember to have fun.
The holiday season is one of the best times to have affordable fun. Free local events will help you stay under budget because you’re not spending a fortune trying to entertain the kids.
From local plays, Christmas lights displays and city sponsored festivities, you’ll keep your calendar full without spending extra. Check Facebook events or free local events publications to find what’s happening near your home.
- Start saving December 26th for NEXT year.
A mistake many make is living month to month, instead of planning out expenses and savings they’ll need for the entire year.
Are you always afraid you’ll be strapped for cash when you need to pay for your car taxes? Are you worried every August that back to school spending will run you dry? Plan for those expenses early so you’re ready for them when they hit.
It’s the same for the holidays. By planning a year in advance, you’ll easily save what you need and know exactly how much you have to budget.
Pro Tip: Start a Signet Christmas Savings Account to take the hassle out of saving all year long. We will auto-draft money from each paycheck to put into this special account keeping your money secure until October, just in time to begin your holiday shopping.
Whether you have a lot or a little, you can make this Christmas special by just being with those you care about. Holiday spending can be fun and exciting, but remember to continue re-evaluating your priorities and ensuring you’re sticking to them. Maybe this way, the credit card bill won’t be a shock and the winter blues won’t settle in come January.