7 Steps to Create a Holiday Budget and Stick to It
It may be “the most wonderful time of the year” when it comes to the anticipation and thrill of the holiday season, but when it comes to planning your holiday budget, your inner understandably wants to Grinch comes out. 2020 has evidently disrupted a lot of the average person’s lifestyle. The pandemic has caused financial problems in families and health scares, and all we might want to hope for this holiday season is peace on Earth or at least a silent night.
While we can’t shake off the year just yet, that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating what’s supposed to be a holly jolly season. That said, what can you do to ensure you won’t break the bank this holiday? Check out some ideas below.
Do Not Wait to Discuss the Holidays
This year especially, many have experienced financial insecurities. With economic struggles more common than ever, hopefully, we can feel comfortable discussing them with others. Especially before the holidays’ mad rush begins. Chances are your close friends and family feels the same way.
According to 2019 research by lendedu, about 20% of Americans believe their Christmas spending will leave them in debt.
To minimize this possibility, consider speaking with the people closest to you and with whom you typically celebrate the holidays. Talk to them about limiting your gifts this year, or find other ways to distribute gifts, such as participating in Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchanges. Looking back at 2019, 86% of millennials overspent on holiday gifts last year, so taking a different approach to swapping gifts can make for a money-saving game changer.
This also goes for your holiday parties and dinners. If you plan on hosting, suggest to your guest you have a potluck dinner. Don’t be afraid to ask others to contribute.
Create a Holiday Budget
If you’ve ever made a budget for your household, then this isn’t much different. Calculate how much you have to spend by going through your credit and debit cards, bank statements, and other banking information. Set a spending limit so you know exactly what your available cash and savings are. This way, you won’t have to worry about potential debt.
Write down a list to decide what you want to buy, and use your funds to see if you can afford it. Creating a spreadsheet or using a budgeting app will help you with the math. Split the list into categories such as gifts, decorations, foods, cards, and other potential holiday expenses.
Just like Santa, make your list and check it twice.
Make sure not to overlook important expenses. Prioritize your spending by numbering each item so you know what you should buy first and what you shouldn’t worry about buying until the later.
Next, give yourself a spending limit per item. For example, if you plan to allocate money towards gifts, write down exactly how much you want to spend on each person. You have to balance your spending with your available money. You cannot be too generous with your numbers but also cannot lowball your funds. Playing around with the spreadsheet and adjusting the numbers will help you reach a comfortable and workable budget. As you make progress with your budgeting, do not forget to keep track of your spending.
Do Your Research
When you feel tempted to buy a certain item or brand from a store, do not purchase it right away.
Instead, browse the web and look at other retail stores to do a price comparison.
Read reviews before purchasing the product. Impulsive buying may get you the item quickly, but it’s rarely efficient. Instead, consider purchasing items of high quality. Cheap products can break easily and just waste your money.
According to a study done by Deloitte, more than 60% of U.S consumers prefer to buy their holiday gifts online, so reading reviews will offer a lot of help. Many online retailers have their own product reviews, and you can find plenty of online forums that provide a great way to engage with a community of fellow buyers.
You can find deals with coupons on items might want this season. Many online retailers offer discounts when you join their email list. Retailers may also come up with extra in-store savings during the holiday season.
Other websites find consumers online coupons for specific retail sites. Virtual flyers and coupons offer some of the best deals on the web that you didn’t even know existed. Actively seeking coupon deals can save you a pretty penny during the holiday season.
Find a Way to Earn Extra Pocket Cash
Sometimes you’ll feel better with an extra bit of money to feel more secure during your holiday shopping. Due to the pandemic, delivery services have skyrocketed. Grocery and food delivery services constantly look for new drivers, and you can do this work of side hustle on your own time.
Retail stores and other service businesses also hire seasonal staff to help with the heavy holiday load. These businesses provide quick training to get you diving into the job.
Surveys also present an easy way to earn some extra money. In exchange for completing surveys, many online sites let you earn points you can redeem for cash after reaching a certain amount.
If want to find a way to declutter, many apps and websites specialize in reselling items you no longer want. You can sell clothing, shoes, gadgets, and more all through your phone without even leaving the comfort of your home.
Purchase Items Early
If you order holiday purchases online, don’t wait until the last minute. Otherwise, you will either have to pay ridiculously high shipping fees in order to get the items on time or your orders will arrive too late for the holidays. To avoid such lose-lose situations, start your online shopping early.
If you go into a store, don’t wait until it’s too late, or else you might find an “out of stock” sign on the products shelves. Plenty of retail stores offer layaway opportunities, this way you can purchase your gifts early and have the store keep them for you until you are ready to pick them up. Many stores also offer layaway programs or installment plans, so you do not have to pay for everything all at once.
Take Advantage of Store Points
Many stores also offer loyalty programs. By joining programs at grocery stores, gas stations, and retail stores, you become eligible for discounts and sometimes even freebies. These will come in handy for the holiday season if want to save a couple of extra dollars or find yourself in need of a few extra stocking stuffers.
Although budgeting seems like a hassle at first, it makes the spending process more efficient in the long run. It helps you keep on track, make smart decisions, and plan for the future.
Finding ways to make it through the holiday season is important now more than ever, with the unpredictable future. But, with careful planning, smart budgeting, and open communication, you might find yourself worrying and stressing less.