Create a Budget
Creating a budget is always important. As you embark on your holiday shopping, be sure to set a spending cap that you can afford. While setting a tight budget can come with good intentions, an unrealistic one can do more harm than good. Don’t just pick a magic number out of a hat—really think things through. Ensure you’re adding enough money into your budget for unexpected costs, so you’re not putting your credit cards at risk. Other costs can include holiday parties, dinners, and travel, so be prepared.
Make a List and Commit
It’s a good idea to make a list and stick to it or your budget won’t mean much. If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, cut down on the number of people to buy gifts for and then, bake some brownies to give to all the people you snipped to ensure you’re spreading the same holiday cheer.
The holidays aren’t an excuse to “charge it”—unless you’re receiving rewards points. Avoid charging your way through the holidays at all costs. Leave your credit cards at home and only spend as much cash as you have allotted in your budget. This is the absolute best method to use to stay within your holiday spending budget. Think of it this way: if you don’t have cash, you can’t afford it. And when the cash is gone, stop shopping.
Track Your Spending
The best way to stay on top of holiday spending is by tracking it—often. Tracking your spending is the biggest key to sticking to your budget, and your list.
Get a Head Start
If you’re only just starting your holiday shopping, it’s a little late—so you can be better prepared for next year, take time at the beginning of the year to plan ahead for next December. After the holidays are over, review your statements and receipts and set a realistic goal for the following year. Then, budget a set amount to save every month throughout the year, so you’ll be all set just in time for the holidays.