Christmas comes at the same time every year, yet we don’t always financially prepare for it like we should. It’s much easier to plan ahead and save than to skip a payment on an important bill, and by following some of these tips, you can ease your financial woes during the holiday season.
Tip #1: Think about all of your expenses for the Christmas season. Don’t just budget for gifts, but for food, decorations, Christmas cards, donations, and last-minute expenses. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to plan for all expenses, not just for one category of the holiday.
Tip #2: Determine how many people you want/need to shop for before the Christmas rush. Make a list, and write down how much you think you can realistically spend per person. This will give you an idea of how much you will want to save, and then you can get a better idea of how much you would like to spend.
Tip #3: Once you’ve determined a budget, set up a savings account with your bank that either allows for a direct deposit to come out of your paycheck each pay period, or make a commitment to set aside a certain amount each month and transfer the money yourself. If you save $50 per month, you’ll have $550 saved by the time December begins. That’s a significant amount of money, and a good way to save throughout the year.
Tip #4: If you are short on money but would like to earn extra funds, think about getting a job during the holiday season. Not only will you earn money, you’ll likely have the opportunity to use your employee discount for some gifts you may decide to purchase. I worked at a bookstore during the holidays, and received a 33% discount off on all items. I was able to use my discount on several purchases, and I could stay within my budget. It made things a lot easier when the next month’s bills came, as I didn’t have to worry about where my money came from.
Tip #5: Think about holiday sales. The day after Thanksgiving is always a good day to save money, if you’re willing to wake up early and brave the crowds. My husband and I have done this for the past few years, and I find that I can not only save a significant amount on some purchases, but I may also receive coupons, rebate offers, and this allows us to remain within the budget we’ve pre-determined.
Tip #6: Do NOT rely on credit. It is very important not to pay for your gifts using credit, as you will find that you may not pay off your bill the next month, and/or that when the interest rates and fees add up, that you’ve spent more than you expected.
Tip #7: If you’ve waited until the last-minute to budget for the holidays, it might be time to review your list and determine what expenses are most important to you. What do you feel you need? What items are your top priorities? You might not have the money you would like to in order to buy your co-workers expensive gifts, but is it really that important? Think outside of the box: homemade gifts can save you money, and several ideas can be found simply by searching the Internet.
Tip #8: It’s never a bad idea to buy items ahead of time, especially if you find good sales throughout the year. I bake several different things during the holiday season,
By planning ahead, you will find the holidays to be less of a financial worry. Your budget will be pre-determined, shopping will be less of a burden, and you will learn new tips and tricks each year.