by: Remie Longbrake | published: Nov. 30, 2020
The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year due to the financial pressures. Especially this year with the added stress of Covid, lockdowns and not seeing extended family, it can be really stressful. Between the gift giving, holiday entertaining, and the regular monthly expenses, it all adds up to an expensive time of year! Add in the stresses of 2020, and it’s easier to find yourself over budget and under funded.
When you budget for the holidays early, you'll have a handle on your holiday shopping and spending throughout the season.
Benefits of a holiday budget.
Keeping a budget during the holiday season will benefit you in many ways. First, you'll avoid overspending, which will keep you from playing "catch up" when the season ends. Second, you'll reduce financial stress throughout the holiday season, which will make the experience more enjoyable for you.
A couple of simple budgeting practices during the next few months will have a positive impact on your holiday spending, which can help to prevent you from going overboard or becoming overwhelmed.
Try these holiday spending budget strategies to ease financial tension during this hectic season:
1. Create a budget.
Determine how much money is available for you to spend based on your current financial situation. Be realistic with your holiday spending budget, regardless of how much or little you can play with. This is your spending limit, and your goal is to stay within it.
Remember that your expenses must be less than your income. There's no need to get into extensive debt because of the holiday season.
2. Make a list of gift recipients.
List everyone that you need to furnish a gift for so you can create a realistic plan to accommodate your gift-giving needs. Keep everyone in mind, including family members, friends, and anyone else you want to give a gift to, such as neighbors or other acquaintances.
3. Create a budgeting worksheet.
Create a basic budget worksheet on paper or on your computer. List every gift recipient in one column. Create a column to brainstorm ideas, a column for your planned budget for each recipient and a column for how much you actually spent on each person. Track overall budget and actual spending as well to see how you do at the end. You can use ours for free or search online for printable templates to use.
4. Tweak budget as needed. Make changes to your budget whenever you overspend on one person so you stay within your budget overall.
Try to set realistic budget amounts for each of the recipients on your worksheet in order to minimize the need for edits to your worksheet, but do not be afraid to make edits as necessary. Make sure you know what each person wants and the expected dollar amount associated.
5. Trim as it's necessary.
Giving gifts to your neighbors, your children's teachers, and service providers like the mailman is a nice sentiment, but not necessary. If your budget cannot support your list of recipients, trim the list as best as possible.
Consider giving stocking stuffer type gifts to these recipients if you insist on giving them something for the holidays. Small gifts, inexpensive homemade gifts, or simple greeting cards are just as sentimental and memorable but will not break your budget.
6. Keep track of your spending.
It’s easy, especially during a busy time of year, to completely ignore how much money we are spending. But the only way to really stick to a budget, whether it’s your monthly budget, or your holiday gift budget, is to pay close attention to how much you’re spending. Whether you’re using an automated tracking app, like Mint, or manually tracking in a spreadsheet or notebook, it’s important to know how much you’re spending as you’re spending it. That way, you will be aware if you’re getting close to your budget limit, you can reel things in and be more careful with your continued spending.
7. Don’t shop for you.
It’s easy to get carried away, but you want to try to not also shop like the stuff you want too. Stick to your list and check it twice. This is the time to shop for others, so unless there is an absolute must have, only buy for those on your list.
8. Stop impulsive buying.
Just stick to what’s on your list and within your budget. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the goodie and sales this time of year. Unless it’s absolutely necessarily stick to your list. Your wallet will thank you.
9. Try to use cash when possible.
It will certainly help save money if you leave the credit card at home. By using your budget you should have the expected amount you’ll need to cover the gifts your after. Of course, some things may not be in stock, so don’t be pressured in spending more then anticipated in order to get the one must have gift. If you are out at the store, you can always hold off and look online. If nothing else, perhaps do a gift card for the expected amount. That is less personable, however it will save you time and going over budget.
10. Start preparing early.
When working on a budget, starting early offers a definite advantage. The more time you have to get your shopping done, the more time you have to comparison shop, shop sales and look for deals. Avoid leaving your shopping until the last moment; otherwise you'll likely pay higher prices and spend more time feeling aggravated in the lineups.
Get a Handle on Your Spending.
It only takes a few simple changes in your spending and budgeting habits to improve your holiday shopping experience. By starting early and following a plan, you can overcome the obstacles of holiday shopping, budgeting, and spending with ease. Enjoy your holidays!
If you need help budgeting, we’re happy to help! Free see our FREE Resource section for a printable guide or contact us for more info.