The holidays are upon us, and many people consider this one of their favorite times of the year. There is an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, often in a festive atmosphere with good food and fellowship. However, the holidays can bring some stress with them as well.
For many individuals, budgeting and general monetary concerns are the sources of that stress.
Here are four tips to help you stick to your planned budget as you navigate this holiday season.
1. Look at Your Credit Card Balances Before You Start Shopping
Many individuals have to deal with credit card debt throughout the year. You might pay off debt as soon as you charge something on one of your cards, but if so, you’re in the minority. Most Americans have at least a little debt that carries over to their next billing period.
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, as long as you stay on top of that debt and don’t let it pile up until it’s well beyond your capability of repaying it. Scrutinizing your balances before you start your holiday shopping is one way you can know how much you have to spend on presents.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of financial shape you’re in, you can come up with a budget that makes sense for you. Starting your holiday shopping before looking at your current card balances is one of the easiest ways to spend beyond your means without realizing it.
2. Allocate a Certain Amount for Each Personal on Your Gift List
As the holidays approach, it’s helpful to make a list of people for whom you need to shop. This list will probably include family members, friends, and maybe a few neighbors or work-related contacts.
Think about how much you should reasonably expect to spend on each person, and put that dollar amount alongside each of their names on the list. It makes sense that you would want to spend a larger amount on your spouse or one of your kids. Smaller trinkets or gift cards might be in order for a colleague or neighbor as a way of showing them you appreciate them.
3. Look Into Secondhand Items as Well as Brand-New Ones
You will probably want to buy brand-new items for some people on your list, but certain pre-owned commodities can also make great gifts. For instance, you might make a trip to any Goodwill outlets in your area, or you might look on sites like eBay for secondhand treasures.
Gently used shoes, sweaters, jackets, books, or other items might work as gifts, and they will not cost as much as if you bought them brand-new. This is a way for you to get more value out of the money you’re spending, and ensure you don’t spend more than you planned.
4. Consider Whether Homemade Gifts Are Appropriate
Presumably, you only have a finite amount of money to go around. You can’t ever make something like a TV or a smartphone, however, a homemade present might be appropriate for some individuals on your list.
Think about what natural skills you have. Maybe you’re able to knit a scarf, or perhaps you can create a portrait of a friend using watercolors. You might compile a digital photo album for them featuring pictures of some happy times you spent together.
If you don’t have a great deal of money to spend this year, homemade gifts from the heart can be just as meaningful as anything you might buy in a store. That will also make it less likely you’ll go over your budget.