Last year Americans racked up an average holiday debt of $1,054, according to CNBC. An easy way to avoid going into debt when holiday shopping is to make and stick to a budget. Here’s how to start working on your holiday budget and spending plan.
Make a List of Your Holiday Expenses
You’ll want to list out all expenses you have coming up for the holidays. Make sure to include:
- Gifts for family and friends
- Planned charitable donations
- Gift exchanges at work
- Cards & wrapping paper
- Postage & shipping for gifts
- Shopping for clothes for any holiday parties.
It’s a good idea to account for additional money and factor in surprises that could pop up (like the person who gives you a gift unexpectedly and you need to buy something for last minute).
Give Yourself A Spending Limit & Stick To It
It’s a good idea to set a holiday spending limit so you don’t have to dig into your savings or add a balance to your credit cards. Make an overall limit and a limit for each item on the list. In a recent holiday spending survey from Deloitte, consumers said that 49% of purchases are completely unplanned or inspired while shopping online. So, you don’t want to fall victim to impulse buys that kill your budget.
If money is tight this holiday season, you can also suggest a gift exchange with your family or group of friends (to lower the number of gifts everyone has to buy) or plan a get-together where everyone brings food and wine in lieu of giving presents. You’ll probably find that your loved ones are actually relieved as well to not have to shop for additional gifts. Plus, it allows you to focus on what truly matters around the holidays– spending time together.
Do Your Research
Check various websites and stores if there’s something specific you’re looking to buy this year. Many stores are offering early Black Friday deals, and have specials running through the end of December. Major retailers often price match, and some will reimburse the difference if they put an item you bought on sale just after you bought it, so you’ll want to keep an eye on sales. Also, you can often bundle shopping together to get free shipping from sites if you spend a certain amount (usually at least $50 or $100) as long as you shop with enough time to not have to rush delivery.
Creating a budget is something you can benefit from financially throughout the year as well, whether you’re budgeting as a single person, planning household expenses for your family, thinking about retirement, or simply looking for a smartphone app to do all of the heavy lifting. Click here for more tips on budgeting.