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Celebrating the Holidays on a Budget

Celebrating the Holidays on a Budget

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We see it every year - stores begin filling with holiday items in September, gifts for family and friends accumulate in hiding spaces, radio stations feature the same 12 holiday hits on repeat, cookies fill break rooms, and so much more. It’s no wonder why many of us overspend during this time, and then we suffer the first few months of the new year with a financial hangover.

Take the stress out of the holidays this year by creating a spending plan you can stick to!

Make a List, Check it Twice

Are you the Santa of your household? A list may sound cliché, but it’s the best place to begin. Gifts are often the first thing you think of when budgeting, but be sure to include other items you’ll need: wrapping paper, gift bags, cards, travel expenses, décor, party expenses, and additional grocery items for holiday dinners.

You may wonder why the holidays make your finances feel so tight, but it’s easy to forget all the additional items we end up purchasing this time of year. The small things add up in a big way!

Set Limits

First, establish your overall budget. How much did you save for holiday spending this year?

Then, assign amounts to each category. An effective way to stay within your budget is to assign a limit to each of your spending categories: décor, food, gifts, etc. By doing this, you’ll know if you went over in the gifts category, you may need to cut back on some of the décor.

Finally, determine who you’re shopping for. Keep your circle small and buy gifts for your immediate family and a few close friends. If there are still people in your circle that don’t make the “gift” list - looking at you, school bus driver – baked goods or homemade cards will tell the recipient you’re thinking of them without breaking the bank.

Track Spending

When you can see your budget and list, it helps keep you on track. Take your gift list with you each time you go holiday shopping or keep it with you when you’re shopping online. Make a list or spreadsheet for your budget and keep it up to date with each purchase you make, allowing you to adjust between the categories as needed.

Look for Ways to Save

There are many ways we can save money during the holidays. Take advantage of Black Friday deals, as many stores will list their sales ahead of time so you can compare prices. Also, you can compare stores and see if they will price match against a competitor.

If you have a rewards credit card, cash in on those points – many can even be used on major retailer sites like Amazon. Did you know you can use points to purchase gift cards for a greater dollar value to then use to purchase gifts (or give the gift cards themselves)?

You can also earn rewards or discounts on shopping deal sites like IBotta, Honey and Rakuten, as well as Visa® Offers! And, don’t forget to check with your phone or cable provider for client perks and more, as another way to decrease your overall spending.

You can set yourself up for success for next year by opening a Holiday Club Savings account and start saving this January! Remember, the holidays may be the season of giving, but they don’t have to be the season of spending.

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