Can you believe this year is almost over? The Holidays are right around the corner, I hope your bank account is prepared! Last year the average person spent a little over $800 during the holiday season. Since your paycheck doesn't increase proportionately to your holiday funds, it's best to set a budget. Budget is not a fun word, in fact, they are often the exact opposite of fun. But you know what is worse than setting a budget? Accruing a bunch of debt. We've put together a few tips to help you set your budget and stick to it. This will ensure you can enjoy the holidays a little more stress-free.
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1. Create the actual budget
Most people know roughly how much money they plan on spending, but very few put it on paper. Writing out your budget is a great way to make sure you don’t miss any small expenses because we all know small items can add up quick! Also, make multiple copies of your budget, keep one at work, one in your purse and one on the fridge. This will help you to keep your budget top of mind. And when your co-workers want to take an impromptu coffee break, you’ll know if you can afford that latte. Here are a few of our favorite free budget printables to help keep you on track.
2. Categorize your expenses
When creating your budget break it out into categories for gifts, décor, parties, food, travel, etc. By breaking your budget out into categories it will help you prioritize what you need to spend money on and what you can skip. For example, if your budget is already tight, maybe you don’t need that new dress for the holiday party, maybe your best friend has one you can borrow, hey it’s new to you!
3. Set a spending limit for each category
Setting a limit for each category is just as important as setting the actual budget itself. Making sure you know exactly what you’re willing to spend on gifts vs holiday food will further help you to stay on budget. If you’re a parent, you know your kids wish list bulges the closer Christmas gets. By setting a gift to spend limit, this will keep you from going out Christmas Eve and grabbing the newest list item.
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4. Keep your gift list organized
If the idea of carrying around a budget annoys you, download an app like The Christmas List. Apps like these will allow you to keep track of everyone you’ve already bought a gift for. This is also helpful in not accidentally buying your dad and brother the same gift!
5. Use credit cards for all of your purchases
This might sound bias since our business centers around them credit cards, but they are a great tool when used wisely. There are quite a few great cash back cards that will earn you rewards on every purchase, meaning you’ll get a nice little gift after the holidays. Another reason credit cards are helpful is that you can see all your purchases on one statement and balance your budget in one place. Lastly, credit issuers like Citi® offer price protection, so if that TV you bought drops in price, your credit card will protect you.
6. Set shopping deadlines
Giving yourself a deadline for purchasing gifts will also help you to stick to your budget. If you make sure you have all of your gifts by Dec 9th, you’ll be less tempted to run out when you hear about sales. It will also ensure you avoid high shipping costs on those last minute gifts.
7. Don’t be afraid to decline events
We’re not saying be totally antisocial, but holiday events can add up. Between the clothing, the food, the wine, the babysitters… you can find yourself blowing your budget by saying yes to every party. It’s about balance, your friends will understand.
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