Keeping Your Finances in Check During the Holidays

If you’re anything like me, around Christmas time you become extra generous. You want to buy a whole bunch of stuff for your loved ones and end up going a little crazy on your wallet. There’s also that fact that you probably want to decorate your home as well. Decorations can get expensive! This big holiday spirit could potentially end up impacting your ability to pay your bills on time, which is definitely not a good thing. It can be hard to decide what to buy, how many gifts you should get, how much you should spend, etc. But how can you make sure that you don’t go so overboard that you end up getting behind on your bills?

Set a Budget (and stick to it of course)!

The best way to avoid spending yourself into a coma is to give yourself a budget on how much you can spend. This will be different for everyone obviously based on your income vs bills and just in general how much you’re looking to spend. You want to make sure you sit down and pre-plan your holiday spending. Lay out everyone that you need to buy for, include any wish list items you’re looking to get, and take a look at what you can spend vs what you feel comfortable spending (there is a difference). You may be able to spend $500 and still squeeze out all of your bills, but do you really want to cut it that close? Think about it and decide what will work for you.

Something that I’ve done in the past is started a savings account strictly for Christmas spending. Make a transfer of a set amount every paycheck or every month (whatever you’re more comfortable with). I found doing an automatic transfer as soon as my paycheck came in was the best because you don’t even realize you would have had it available to spend anyway. If you’re tempted to touch the savings, find a way to hide it. My bank offers an option to remove an account for online access, which means I would need to actually go in to the bank to pull money out. It will save you the guilt trip later. I would imagine most banks do the same. If your bank doesn’t then you’re going to have to get some self-control ;P

Avoid your credit card unless you have the ability to pay it off! Interest rates will end up causing you to spend even more if you’re not able to pay it off right away. A lot of people get great rewards or cash back on their credit cards which makes it worthwhile to use, but is your $10 in cash back off of all you spent worth all the interest you’re going to pay? Probably not. That’s why it’s so important to be able to pay off your holiday spending so that you won’t have to pay interest. Then your rewards or your callback are actually something to celebrate! Not only that, but then you could be assured that you won’t have this never-ending cycle of spending so much that you don’t pay it off until it’s time to do it again!

Do your shopping early!

The biggest step to saving money when you’re buying your Christmas gifts is to get it done early. Retailers bank on last-minute shoppers and most times will jack up prices on popular items (even if it’s just a little bit) because they know people will buy it anyway. They know our world is full of procrastinators! They also know that as stubborn as some people are when it comes to getting the best deal, if you’re pressed for time, you’re going to buy what’s available. You can avoid all of this by simply shopping early.

When it comes to the decorations for your home, the same thing applies. Around the holiday’s decorations are at their peak prices, however the day after Christmas, most of it drops by 50% and sometimes even more! Wait until after Christmas and then stock up! While this doesn’t help you for this year, you will definitely be thanking yourself next year. Besides, there are a TON of do-it-yourself decoration ideas anyway that will satisfy your holiday spirit. Hello Pinterest!

DIY!

When I said there were a TON of DIY decoration ideas out there, I definitely meant it. If you’re not an avid Pinterest user like yours truly, then Google is your friend. There are so many cool projects that you could do that would cost you so much less than going and buying similar decorations. Even if you’re not that artsy, most of them out there are very simple and end up looking excellent! Who knows, if you’re good at it, you might be able to make a profit and sell your DIY projects.

This also applies to gifts for your loved ones as well. Are you a baker on a budget? Make some delicious Christmas treats and give them to friends and family. Do you like to knit or crochet? Make a blanket for someone! Don’t even get me started on the arm knit blankets. So freaking cool! Do you have a crazy coffee drinker in your life? Get a plain colored mug and decorate it in a way that they’ll love! There are a bunch of tutorials on how to do it. Seriously that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the do-it-yourself projects out there. Start researching. Your friends and family will appreciate it!

Shop around!

This somewhat applies to doing your shopping early, but even if you get caught doing the last-minute thing, you can still shop around for the best deal. You’ve already waited this long, so spending a little extra time isn’t going to kill you. Check online for ads for your local stores. While there’s probably going to be around a $10 difference at the max, that’s still $10 that you didn’t have to spend. If you’re shopping for a lot of people this is definitely going to add up. You just have to figure out if the convenience of going to one store compared to 10 others outweighs the savings. I live in a small town, so it doesn’t really make a big difference for me.

There you have it. Those are my four most trusted ways to avoid overspending and killing my bank account at Christmas time. It just takes a little discipline. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge procrastinator, so shopping early doesn’t always work out for me. This year I did a lot better and only have a few last-minute things to pick up, which checking the prices on some of the more expensive things I bought, it definitely worked out in my favor doing it early. At the end of the day it’s important to have a good time and bring joy to other people during the holidays. This will hopefully save you a little money and get you prepared for next year!

What are some of your favorite holiday savings tricks? Use the comment box and share below!

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