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Managing your budget during the holidays can be a challenge. More expenses, more to do and less time to do it in, isn’t that the way of the world. These seven tips to help you manage your money during the holidays.
Still, there is no reason holidays need to be stressful. Holidays should be a time of kinship and gratitude.
Managing your money correctly can go along way to reducing the anxiety that comes with the holiday season.
Manage Your Money During the Holidays With A Holiday Budget
When attempting to manage money, whether you are at a business or doing your personal finances, the first step is always a budget.
For the holidays, budgeting your total spending allotment should be step number one before you ever enter a store—online or otherwise. What can you afford? Don’t spend more than that. Even if it means getting cheaper gifts or making them yourself.
Next, you need to make a list and check it twice. Come on, Santa does it.
In all seriousness, writing down all your expenses for the Holiday season from gifts and decorations to childcare and travel expenses is vital to managing your money and reducing stress during the holiday season.
If you are struggling with budgeting, here are some Holiday budgeting tools if you need help getting started:
- Santa’s Bag
- Christmas Gift List
Consumerism Is NOT A Holiday Requirement
When I was seven and my sister was ten we made our dad a T-shirt for Christmas, it said ‘World’s Best Dad’ on it. It was poorly made and the lettering begins falling off after only a couple washes. Dad still has that shirt. And he wears it regularly.
Consumerism is not a holiday requirement. Don’t be afraid to give personal gifts, photos, drawings, etc. Sentimentality always beats consumerism. And it can save you money, too. This is one of the biggest ways to manage your money during the holidays.
Shop Early, Shop Often
According to a recent holiday survey, 40% of shoppers will wait until the last 10 days before Christmas to buy gifts. Don’t be like this. Shop early and shop often.
Spreading out gift expenses is one of the best ways to avoid hurting your credit or incurring debt during the holiday season. Start shopping as early as you can and spread your holiday expenses over a couple of months.
When you compare, you save and leaving things until the last ten days before Christmas doesn’t leave much time for saving.
Quality Over Quantity
According to a recent article in the Sun magazine the average parent gives each child ten gifts or more.
Let’s do some math here:
Supposing you have four children who each receive ten gifts, even if you only spend $25 per gift(which is hard to do), you are going to be out $1000. Considering the average family in America only pulls in around $3,200 a month that seems excessive.
Remember, it’s ok to go for quality rather than quantity. You can still have that magical Christmas you’ve always imagined with fewer gifts.
Try filling up the stockings with cheaper items and buying just a couple of quality gifts for each child to save some money this Christmas.
And put down the smartphone, research shows smartphone purchases account for over 31% of all last-minute Christmas purchases.
But, How Much For Shipping?
When shopping online many patrons forget to calculate in the cost of shipping when comparing product value. Remember to ask—but how much for shipping?—before you purchase.
According to a recent holiday survey, 52% of all holiday shipments occur the week of Black Friday and in the first two weeks of December. This influx of traffic causes shipping costs to go up substantially. Avoid the excessive shipping costs by having your present delivered early.
Also, remember you can buy your gifts early and have them delivered all at once, saving money on shipping, through companies like Amazon and Walmart. You can also manage your money during the holidays by having these items shipped to your local store.
Maintain Your Credit Score
Maintaining your credit score during the holidays can be difficult. This is because credit scores are affected by the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limit, and there are a lot of additional expenses during the holiday season.
It can pay to use cash and debit cards more often during this time of year to keep that ratio intact. Also, it’s been proven that consumers are more likely to spend less when using cash or debit cards vs. credit cards.
On the other hand, if you are able to control your spending, maintain your credit balance to credit limit ratio and pay off your credit cards on time, you may be able to take advantage of credit card rewards points to save some money.
Worst comes to worst if you are struggling to get your credit in order during this holiday season it may be time to reach out to some experts. Even if you are strapped for time and can’t get in to physically see credit repair specialists, there are a number of DIY credit repair software options that can help reduce your anxiety this holiday season.
Don’t Forget Your Returns!
We’ve all been there, grandma got you a shirt that is three sizes too big—she says you can wear it as a sleep shirt. Don’t listen, return that shirt and keep the money or get one that actually fits.
According to a recent NPR/Marist poll, 91% of shoppers say they almost never or never return online holiday gifts. Don’t forget your returns! It’s free money!
The holidays can be stressful times when money is tight, but by following a couple of simple tips and rules for managing money, your holiday season can be anxiety-free.