Making and Staying on a Budget This Holiday Shopping Season

Successful people know how to manage their finances.  But even those of us who are great at sticking to a budget sometimes go overboard during the holiday season.  Here are some thoughts on how avoid that trap this coming holiday season.

Even though fall is just settling in the air and leaves, the holiday season will be here before you know it. We all start our holiday shopping with the best intentions, but staying on budget is sometimes easier said than done. Here are five basic steps to ensure you don’t go overboard with your holiday spending this year. Here are a few handy tips to help you get started to keep you from accidentally giving yourself the gift of financial ruin.

Use Cash When Possible

By using nothing but cash to pay for your holiday purchases, you’re more likely to shop smart and avoid overspending. This is because unlike a debit or credit card, you see your cash dwindling with each purchase you make, letting you know exactly how much you have left before you’re all out. Even if your bank sends you a notification every time your card is swiped or used, it still doesn’t have the same impact as physically watching your cash reserves dry out. Use that effect to your advantage.

Take Note of All Your Holiday Expenses

Sit down and think about everything you’re likely to have to pay for during the holidays. Besides gifts, you may also need wrapping paper, cards, decorations, ingredients for recipes and donations to holiday charities you’d like to support. If you have family and friends who are out of state, you may want to visit them this year, which means you’ll need to budget for tickets, lodging and transportation. It makes no difference how inexpensive your purchases are, write all of them down and build a budget around them.

Make the Most of Technology

The power of “Fintech” (or financial technology) can help keep you financially informed during the holidays. Finance experts like Donald Gayhardt are huge proponents of fintech and things like monitoring your spending with online banking and banking apps. Giving yourself a visual of your expenditures can have a big impact on your mental and emotional desire to spend. It can also help you spot errors like double charges or refunds that aren’t processed correctly. Additionally, checking your accounts regularly can help you thwart criminal activity quickly. The holiday shopping season is a goldmine for criminals, and you need to know if someone has somehow obtained your account information and gone on an unauthorized shopping spree. Be sure you know how the deactivate or freeze your account if needed.

Know How Much You Have to Spare

Unfortunately, your bills won’t take a vacation when the holidays roll around, you’ll still need to pay them. Look at your regular budget and income and decide how much you have left over for holiday spending. Your regular bills and financial obligations need to come first to keep from being hit with unnecessary fees and falling into financial hardship when you should be celebrating with friends and family. If you simply don’t have the money for very much this year, those closest to you are sure to understand.

Research Items on Your List

Once you’ve decided what belongs on your holiday list, do some research to see where and how you can get the best deal. You’re better off looking early to take advantage of different pricing levels, which can fluctuate around the holidays. See if there are specials or discounts that you can take advantage of, and look into apps and services designed to help you find the best price. When ordering online, do what you can to get free shipping. Finally, familiarize yourself with return and refund policies.

It can most certainly be the most wonderful time of the year if you prepare yourself and your finances accordingly. Be sure that you put these holiday-spending tips to good use to ring in the New Year without unnecessary debt or financial frustration.


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