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The holidays are fast approaching and that means buying gifts and celebrating with loved ones. The quickest way to ruin the holiday spirit, though, is getting into debt from overspending. Luckily, it is possible to shop without going over budget. In the spirit of the holidays, we’re giving you the gift of knowledge. Here are five tips to have a stress free, enjoyable holiday shopping season.
Give Yourself a Budget When it comes to the holidays, the best way to get organized is to make a list. Write down the names of everyone you want to buy gifts for and then list how much you expect to spend on them. This should include your family, friends, coworkers and kids. You should even include people you might tip or just acknowledge with a smaller gift, like your mailman, service workers, or kids’ teachers. You can also add a column for gift ideas.
As you shop for the holidays, bring the list with you. When you make a purchase, check that item off the list. And if you find a great bargain, you might be able to make adjustments for items you haven’t purchased yet. If you keep the list with you and update it as you shop, you’ll know you’re on track with your budget. If you go over for one person, you can cut back on someone else. It’s also wise to add a line item for unplanned gift recipients. This would allow you to buy a couple of more generic gifts, like chocolate or candles, and spontaneously give them to those people who might surprise you with gifts you weren’t expecting.
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Essentially, you should know exactly how much you plan to spend on gifts and expenses, and the only way to do that is to create a budget just for the holidays. Your budget should account for buying everything you need without pushing you past your financial limits.
Plan to Shop During Sales Events
You can save a lot of money by planning to shop when you can take advantage of promotions, sales, and coupons. Signing up for mailing lists and emails can also help when it’s time to shop. You can even start to plan ahead for the holidays the following year knowing that many companies have sales or special deals around other holidays throughout the year.
One of the best ways to prepare for the holidays is to start saving as early as possible. Many personal finance experts recommend putting a small amount of money in a separate savings account each month throughout the year and withdrawing it in October or November to start your Christmas shopping. If you haven’t saved up until this point, start a plan now to save a certain amount every week in your savings account. Even a little bit can go a long way.
Only Spend What You Already Have
If you are still apprehensive about overspending, you can always use a prepaid debit card. A prepaid card only allows you to spend what you’ve already deposited. Using a credit card around the holidays might make it too easy to overspend.
Ultimately, the holidays don’t have to be stressful or hard to manage when it comes to your finances. With a little planning and a bit of dedication, you can be prepared to have your best holiday season yet.