With back-to-school season in full swing, the next big event our families look forward to now is the upcoming holiday season. Giving yourself a few months to start planning (as in starting TODAY!) for this potentially very expensive time of year is my tip for the day. From food for holiday parties, gifts and even travel expenses, the spending seems unending.
If you are like most households, you don’t have $1000’s of disposable income to extravagantly spend on Christmas. Therefore your best bet is to plan ahead for the holidays and avoid the toll they take on your bank account. It’s time to figure out our expenses in advance to avoid putting ourselves into debt come January.
Here are 4 easy tips to keep yourself debt free this holiday season:
1) Determine How Much You Can Spend Overall
Set a realistic limit for how much money you can put towards holiday spending. You should have a pretty good idea of the extra money you have each pay period. Consider what would be a reasonable amount of spending for your budget. In our family we set aside an amount each year that we have to stick to – and plan for any holiday events when we set up our annual budget in January.
May I suggest even putting together a spending spreadsheet on who you need to buy gifts for, events you need to attend, and any travel expenses you may incur. If you are hosting any events, be sure to include extra food or decor costs as well.
Since the holiday season includes many different holidays, be sure to keep track for each event, whether its Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years.
2) Find Ways You Can Save In Your Current Budget
You should look at your budget closely for areas you could save more money for the remainder of the year. For example, if you are spending too much on insurance, consider contacting a local insurance agent to try to get a better deal. You can do the same for cable, internet and many other services. Saving money can free some up for your holiday needs. Plus, it will help you out the rest of the year, which is a nice gift to give yourself.
3) Start Early
The earlier you start planning for holiday spending, the easier it will be to save the money you need. It is ideal if you begin saving at the beginning of each year, but if time has gotten away from you, start saving as soon as possible. I know I published this in late August, but it may be November when some of you are reading this. Map out what you can save back each month to help you reach the goal amount you will need come November and December. This is why I’m a huge fan of shopping for Christmas all year long!
4) Look for Deals
You should start paying close attention to sales as the holidays creep closer. Watch for good prices on items you need or discounts that you can get. – especially during the well known Black Friday sales events. For ongoing grocery savings, join this Couponing To Cut Your Grocery Bill Facebook Group to keep up on the best deals to stock up on. When shopping online for gift ideas, be sure to look for promo codes before you checkout – Dealspotr.com is a great place to find them. Retailmenot.com also has a smartphone app you can download or a Google Chrome extension called Genie that will show you promo codes while you are shopping online! Check out discount websites on a regular basis like the Groupon Goods Clearance section for special deals on gift items. You can Join this Hot Online Deals Facebook group to see even more great online deals!
The holidays are supposed to be a time of togetherness and happiness, but when they strain your finances, they become a hassle. Avoid the holiday budget drain this year by planning out your spending. Knowing ahead of time what you can afford and preparing for all the spending can help you keep it in control and make this a stress free holiday season.