The holiday season means rushing between work, school, and holiday events while trying to conceal that rip in your daughter’s last pair of tights. You wonder how you’ll survive tomorrow night’s family holiday party. The last thing you want is to be stressed about finances. From when to shop, what to buy, and how to keep our cool, these tips will help you make the best of your holiday budget.
Create a Budget
To spend your money wisely, you need to know what you can spend. Creating a budget doesn’t require experience, there are plenty of online tools to help you get started. You first need to come up with a realistic spending limit. This is the set amount you can spend, it’s not a goal to reach. Try to spread your funds evenly amongst everyone you have to buy for. This rule may be tweaked if you already have limits in place for specific people. Spreadsheets or general lists are a great way to keep track of gift ideas and cost ratios per person. Speradsheet123 has a great template for a holiday budget.
Make a plan for when you will shop. Having holiday shopping done by Black Friday can be nice, but realistically, not many of us are far past that luxury. Check what stores have the best deals by comparing online catalogs, flyers, and checking your email notifications. Make a plan of where you need to shop and stick to your list. If you want to get a Black Friday deal, go early and leave the kids at home. Bring a shopping buddy to keep you company and help you stay on track. Don’t be lured by window displays.
Avoid Hot Trend Toys
Whenever possible, avoid trending toys. These are the toys that ever major store is pushing, but has very few in stock. If you’ve got little kids, avoid the temptation of overpaying on eBay or other sites just to have a specific toy. It is hard justifying an excessive cost for a toy your kid may no play with very long. For these items you can’t get before the holidays without breaking your budget, you (or Santa) can explain to the kids that the toy isn’t available yet, but they will get one soon. It’s a judgment call on your part, but if staying on budget is your goal, stay away from overpriced trending toys. These items can always be purchased on holiday break or for a birthday gift.
Have Fun with Family
Making time for family and friends is an indirect way to influence your budget. When you’re taking time out to enjoy those you love, you’re not wrapped up in the chaos of shopping. Enjoy your family, see your friends and do things outside of holiday prep whenever you can. These little things helps you maintain balance during this chaotic time of year. Don’t let yourself be consumed by the holiday rush. Spend time with the people that you love. Your time is more of a gift than anything money can buy.
Just because the holiday season is here doesn’t mean you can’t budget your money and make smart shopping choices. Make a plan for what you can realistically spend, have an idea of what to buy, and don’t be lured in by “irresistible prices”. For those hard to please types, gift cards and experience gifts (ex: a spa day) are a great choice. Give yourself time to shop without added stress when you can. With a little planning, you can create a sensible holiday budget that will please everyone and give you time to spend with your loved ones.
Do you have a set way of budgeting for the holidays? Do you have a favorite shopping strategy? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
**Images are all from Pixaby. Thanks!**