November 15th 2016 - Betty Anne Flynn
Now that Thanksgiving and Halloween have come and gone, everyone is turning to thoughts of Christmas. It’s still early, but it is a great time to put a plan in place to save time, keep your spending within budget and reduce any stress associated with the busy holiday season. Here are some helpful hints to make both your festivities and budget a great success.
1) Make a List
Before you start shopping, make your lists. In addition to gifts, include food (don’t forget your holiday baking ingredients), alcohol, cabs, entertainment, parties, travel, and decorations. Oh, and don’t forget about New Year’s Eve. Decide on a budget for each person on your gift list before you head out shopping. This will help you from over spending. Set a budget for all the other items on your list so you will know how much cash you need to get through the holidays.
2) Stick With the Plan
Sticking to your gift list will help keep you on budget, get you in and out of crowded malls quickly, help you stay organized and on top of your spending. You may need to have some willpower as it’s very easy at this time of year to be in a generous mood and overspend. The whole point of the list is to help you stay on budget.
3) Is your budget a bit tight?
There are plenty of things you can do to help reduce your expenses. Talk to family members and friends to see if you can pick names for gifts or perhaps keep the gift list just for the children. If you’re entertaining, consider having a pot-luck rather than taking on the whole food budget. Handmade gifts can be much less expensive and an even more heartwarming and appreciated gift. Look on Pinterest or other sites for great handmade gift ideas that match your creative skills.
4) Stay out of Debt
It’s best to try and avoid debt, which is one of the purposes of making lists and setting a budget in the first place. Without lists, it’s easy to lose track of spending especially when you’re using a credit card. If you do have to borrow to get through the Christmas season, be mindful of credit card or loan rates, and develop a plan to quickly pay off any debt you incur. Use the credit card with the lowest interest rate. Start thinking ahead by saving for next Christmas. Be proactive by taking steps towards managing your holiday spending year over year. Simply figure out what you spent this year to calculate how much you need to set aside each pay period for the next year.
These helpful hints should give you more time and peace of mind to enjoy the holiday season with loved ones. A little planning now will lead to less stress in January when your bills arrive.
Happy Holidays & Happy Planning!