The holidays are a common time when people overspend. It is easy to make last-minute choices that have long-term consequences if you are not intentional about creating a budget for holiday spending. It is also a good idea to research some tips to save money to give you an idea of ways to decrease your spending during the holidays. A little planning can keep you from getting too overwhelmed as you make holiday purchases.
Having a holiday budget and sticking to the budget decreases the likelihood of you making poor choices as you are doing your holiday shopping. If you do not have a plan, you might end up letting several small purchases add up. And that can cause some unforeseen expenses that you are not prepared to deal with.
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What are some common holiday expenses that stretch the budget?
CNBC.com lists Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day as the biggest holidays for spending. It does not take long for holiday purchases to add up. One moment in you are in the store picking up a few items and the next thing you know you have spent way more than you intended to spend.
There are so many things that sneak their way into your cart while you are preparing for festivities with your friends and families. Here are the most common ways that you can overspend during the holidays:
- Extra activities
- Extra giving/donations
Without a clear plan, you can do deep into debt in no time.
How can I avoid overspending during the holiday season?
Making holiday memories does not have to cost a fortune. Use these tips to avoid putting extra financial stress on your family this year:
Create a budget.
Recognize that every year is different. Some years, there are more resources available for holiday spending than others. Sit down and take an honest look at your financial situation and make decisions based on your current situation. Write the budget down and stick to it.
Find ways to make some holiday cash.
Use the time leading up to the holidays to find ways to make some extra cash. Consider cleaning out your closets and selling some items on Poshmark or hosting a yard sale. This is a good way to make space for any new items that you may be bringing into the house during the holidays.
Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it.
If you go into the store (or start browsing online) without having an idea of what you are searching for, you are likely to make some impulse purchases that may put you over your intended budget. Make a list of what you are going to buy and try to stick to that list. Try not to be distracted by every bright and shiny object that you see in stores and online. Remember, holiday marketing is meant to draw you into extra unintended purchases. Do not fall for it if you cannot afford it.
Worry about yourself.
It is so easy to peep over at the Joneses during the holidays, but do not do it! Just because someone buys you something does not mean that you have to buy them something, especially if it is not in your budget. Also, if someone else is hosting a huge spectacular holiday celebration, do not try to compete if your financial situation does not lend itself well to the extra purchases needed to pull off such an event. Focus on your family and what makes sense for you and your budget for the holidays. Do not get yourself into a long-term bind trying to impress people for one event that no one will be thinking about in a few weeks.
Try to plan your shopping as far ahead as you can. Procrastination can sometimes lead to overspending. If you wait until the last minute, the store might be out of the item(s) that you are looking for and you might be left with more expensive items that you had not originally planned on purchasing. Also, take time to look for deals. (And remember, if the deal is on something that you had not planned to purchase, it is not the deal for you. Only purchase what you need if you are trying to stick to your budget.)
Just say no.
It may be hard, but say no to things that do not make financial sense for you. Recognize that it may not be possible to do everything that you want to do (or that everyone in your family wants you to do) and stay within your budget. You may feel some guilt from that. But do not let the guilt cause you to make a poor financial decision. Set limits and stick to those limits to keep your finances in check this holiday season. Do not let someone else make you feel guilty for being smart with your money.
These tips can help you get through the holidays without overspending. The holidays are about more than just gifts and decorations. Find ways to have memorable moments without breaking the bank and without causing yourself stress for the next several months.