Curb Holiday Spending
Each holiday season, do you tell yourself, “This year, I’m going to stick to a budget,” but of course, you exceed it? If so, you are not alone. It seems to be an unplanned and unconscious consumer ritual of spending more money on gifts over the current holidays than was spent the previous holiday season. To inspire a new tradition of a budget-friendly holiday, here are a few ideas to help you curb overspending and add a jingle of prudence to your life.
The most important thing you can do to control overspending is to plan. This includes preparing a list of gift recipients, setting a gift-cost limit, and selecting a gift for each person that meets both your budget and their taste or need. Once the list is made, stick to it.
When preparing your budget, plan to use cash as much as possible. If the end of the year leaves you with little cash and only credit for gifts, opening and contributing to a Holiday Club account at your credit union will eliminate this concern next year.
You may need to use credit cards at some point. Try to keep credit purchases to a bare minimum and use the card with the lowest interest rate and fewest fees. This definitely helps cut down on the credit punch many consumers feel when their January credit card bills arrive.
For each purchase you make, keep receipts and carefully track the dollars/credit spent. This may sound overkill; however, controlling your overall spending is easier when you can see where the money is actually going—as it is going.
Once you have an overall plan in place, it is time to shop! Sticking to your spending plan will be most difficult when you are actually buying an item, at the store or shopping online. You will need to remain focused and resolute in order to stay within your budget.
Go to stores and malls when they are least crowded. Consumers are most likely to overspend and/or ‘impulse buy’ when they are stressed and hurried. Take your time parking, walking, looking, and especially buying.
You might consider purchasing online to avoid the crowds. Just make sure the online merchant is reputable and that their online purchasing process is secure. Inquire, before you purchase, how long it will take to receive the item. Processing and shipping methods and times vary greatly across merchants.
Ask yourself just before any purchase, “Is this item on my list, within my budget, and will it match the recipient’s taste or meet their need?” If you can answer yes to all three, go for it. If not, don’t buy it.
The holiday season is stressful for many. This is why it is so important that you not forget to make time to take care of yourself. Schedule “me time” in pen, not pencil. Feeling relaxed and happy helps you handle the stress of the season and stick to your spending plan more easily.