Following a Budget Makes for Happier Holidays
Although students have only recently headed back to school, store displays are already revealing Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas items. With the reality that the holidays are just around the corner, it is a good time to start budget planning if you have not done so already.
“Set money aside each month designated solely for holiday shopping,” said Eli Snyder, FamilyMeans Financial Solutions Counselor Manager. “Often the overspending starts out with being just a little overextended, but it can become unmanageable in a short time.”
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offers the following helpful holiday tips that can be applied for smart shopping throughout the year.
Develop a spending budget. Determine household and personal expenses for November and December. Subtract the total amount of expenses for each month from your take-home pay. The amount left over becomes your starting point to gauge how much you can afford to spend.
Write lists. Create a list of purchases you plan to make and write a list of all the gift recipients. Note other items you may purchase such as postage, cards, gift wrap, decorations and entertainment.
Consider creative gift-giving. Gifts do not always have to cost money. Consider heartfelt gifts such as a handmade quilt, a homemade plate of favorite desserts or a day of housecleaning.
Look for deals. Watch for special discounts in stores and look for coupons or online deals at your favorite places to shop. Purchasing items in bulk and sharing the costs with friends or family can result in a substantial cost savings.
Avoid last-minute shopping. Plan your shopping trips in advance. Last-minute shopping can lead to impulse purchases.
Pay with cash. Paying with cash helps avoid unplanned purchases. Leave your debit card and checkbook at home. This will help to avoid spending temptations.
When you have completed your list, stop shopping. Tally your receipts. This will give you a good idea as to how much cash to save over the course of the next year. When your shopping is complete, be done!
With a well thought-out plan set within your budget parameters, you can enjoy all facets of the upcoming holidays with the knowledge that you will start the year ahead financially healthy. If you need help to create a budget for the holidays, contact our team or your counselor to review your budget.