It's officially the holiday season! For those of you that are like me and love the colder weather, pumpkin-spiced and peppermint flavored treats, and twinkly lights adorning every store front, this the happiest time of the year! That said, it can be really easy to get carried away with the holiday season and the barrage of Black Friday ads and completely blow your budget. The last thing that you want to do is start the new year with a tiny mountain of credit card debt leftover from your holiday shopping binge. Here are my three tried and true tips to help you make and most importantly, stick to your holiday budget.
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
Santa Clause is not the only one who should be making a shopping list! Before you jump in your car to hit the isles or log on to Amazon to add gifts to your virtual cart, make a list of everyone who you would like to buy gifts for. Consider your family members, friends, colleagues, and any charity drives that you are interested in participating in. Having a complete idea of how many gifts you need to purchase will help you set a realistic budget for each individual gift you must buy, as well as an overall budget. It also helps to have an idea of what you'd like to purchase for each person. While you may not know exactly what the perfect gift for each individual on your list is, having a general idea will help you budget and narrow your search when you begin shopping.
2. Bargain Hunt
I'll be completely honest, it can be slightly overwhelming to keep track of all of the sales, deals, coupons, and bargains that are floating around this time of year. I, no doubt, have hundreds of "save now" emails in my inbox at this very moment, and that number will continue to grow each day. However, having that list we discussed in step one will help you narrow your coupon search when you are ready to buy. If you know you want to purchase a piece of jewelry for your spouse, you can narrow the sale search down to specific retailers, rather than wandering around the isles of multiple stores hoping to find the gift that speaks to you.
3. Don't Be Impulsive
This is generally a good stick-to-your-budget tip in general, but during the holidays it's especially pertinant because you are likely expecting to spend more than your typical monthly budget. But don't get too carried away with the holiday spirit and make impulsive purchases. If you originally budgeted to spend $100 on a gift for your child, resist the urge to go over that, even if you run across an unbeatable deal. Bonus Tip: Avoid shopping for yourself! It's so easy to see incredible, can't miss deals on sweaters, electronics, and other gadgets that you just have to have for yourself, but do your best to avoid impulsively buying yourself gifts because this is a surefire way to bust your budget.
Tis the season for joy, laughter, and hopefully for all of you, a well-balanced budget!