Another year has flown by, and the holiday season is just around the corner. This is an expensive time of the year for many because it often entails travel, gift purchases, and taking time off work.
When you least expect it, you can find that you’ve maxed out your credit card or racked up debt that you’ll spend half of the following year paying off.
However, you can still make the holidays a success without breaking the bank with a bit of planning and self-control.
Here are some ways to maintain a budget through the holidays.
1. Spread Out the Payments
Oftentimes, people do all their Christmas shopping at once – especially when you leave it to the last minute and need to buy all the gifts at once. This can cause a financial strain as some purchases may be rather expensive.
The best way to shop for holidays without wasting your savings is to spread out the payments over time. This way, you can pay them off before making another big purchase.
But if you need to purchase something immediately, consider an online payday loan. It gives you money fast, does not require a credit score check, and can be paid back on your next payday. A loan gives you time to save up for big expenses.
2. Sales and Deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming more and more popular for significant holiday buying as they offer great deals. With proper planning of what your family’s gifts will be, you can start buying them more than a month in advance and pay off debts before the end of the year.
If you plan well in advance, you can also keep an eye out for deals all year round to take advantage of as well. Remember that many products increase in price during the holiday season. This is especially true for travel, as the value of air tickets is higher the closer to the travel date.
If you have left the holiday shopping until last minute, a good alternative is to look for discounts and coupons online for specific items. Many promotions may be available but not highly promoted, which requires some research time and patience to find good bargains.
3. Plan Ahead
If you are planning to travel for the holidays or anticipating significant expenses coming up, plan ahead. This is the most crucial step in the process of saving money and avoiding the stress that comes with the holiday season.
A lot of people start planning in mid-October. But if you manage to do it in mid-year, you’ll have even more time to save money. With a calendar at hand, paper and pen (or your laptop or mobile, as you prefer), start writing down all the things you’re anticipating paying for, so you can see what is coming your way.
Once you have the list ready, assess how realistic it is considering your budget. Try to identify what you can do to get the money you need or what items you will need to eliminate to stay within your existing budget.
4. Set a Budget
According to a recent report, 70% of people struggle to stick to a budget during the holidays. Try to create a budget of what you want to spend for each person on your gift-giving list. This way, you avoid spending more than you can.
If you are tasked with cooking for the whole family or planning to go on a trip, set budgets for these items as well. Once you set a budget, be mindful of your spending and stick to it.
For example, if you go over your budget on an item, take money from another item or category in your budget, so the overall budget spending remains the same.
5. Give Love, Not Gifts
You’ve made your to-do list for the holiday season, managed to calculate a budget, and find that your financial situation is a little tight. In this case, the best is to treat it realistically.
Since your family will care less about the monetary value and more about the kind gesture, here are some things you can offer in place of an expensive gift:
Use your talents in the kitchen or in different crafts to make your own gifts, as these are often much cheaper than purchasing things.
Talk with the family about skipping or deferring gifts for a few weeks.
Share your skills and offer people a gift of time or a personal favor that doesn’t require spending money.
Instead of gifts, plan a fun trip or event for the family, such as a weekend at the spa, or a visit to a theme park.
Consider making a small charitable donation in their name to a nonprofit.
Start the New Year Lighter
The holiday season has a very characteristic symbolism: celebrating the end of one year and the start of a new cycle with renewed energy and eagerness for new challenges and achievements.
So it doesn’t make sense to exaggerate spending for the holidays and start the year even more stressed, knowing that your budget has gone over and you will have bills to pay for months to come.
Plan your finances responsibly, and remember that any gift or trip should be something important and meaningful to you and your family – not just something expensive that won’t bring any meaningful return.