Are you on a tight budget this holiday season? Check out these 12 tips to control your holiday spending and get back on budget.
I have three kids to buy during the holidays. That’s not including their teachers, classmates, close friends, and our extended family. Let me tell you. With that many people to buy gifts for, it is easy to go overboard with my spending. Heck, it would be easy even if I only had one kid to buy for. There are so many good deals on so many things. It’s hard to resist the temptation to buy anything and everything. When I feel the need to spend extra money, I usually fall back on this list to keep myself on track.
So, today I’m going to share my 12 tips to keep your holiday spending on budget.
1. Make a list of all the people you intend to buy for.
Include anyone from school, church, extended family, the paperboy, or anyone else you can think of that you will purchase a gift for no matter how small.
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2. Set a limit for everyone on your list.
Whether it’s $500 for your kids of $5 for the teacher, putting a dollar amount to each person will work to both inform you of how much money you’ll need and hold you accountable to stay within that limit.
3. If a “have-to-have” gift is outside your budget, take the time to search for a better deal.
A lot of stores have price-match guarantees and some stores, like Walmart, will even match their online prices that are cheaper.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute.
The best deals will only be found until shipping is no longer an option. Then the prices go back up because the stores no that you have no other choice than to buy it at whatever price you can get it.
5. Buy last year’s model, especially when it comes to electronics.
Let me tell a quick story about the laptop I’m using to write this post. Earlier this year my old laptop went kaput so I began shopping for a new one. I knew that the tax-free school holiday was coming up so I held out until I could save the extra money. Taxes in our area are 10% so that’s quite a savings.
When the tax-free weekend hit, I knew that I wanted to change from a Windows computer to a Mac. The only problem was that only computers that cost up to $750 were applicable for the tax exemption. So, I went to Best Buy hoping for a miracle.
That miracle came in the form of last year’s model. According to the Apple representative, it’s processor was 0.2 seconds slower than the newer model and it cost $300 less. It cost just enough to get the tax exemption also. I walked out of Best Buy one happy woman. Do I care that it’s last year’s model? Heck no! It works great and I will probably never go back to Windows again. (Sorry Windows. We had a good run.)
The point is that you can save some real money by going with an older model and as quickly as electronics change, even if you bought the newest model, it would likely be outdated in just a few months when the next version comes out. Save the money while you can.
6. Know the everyday price.
Check multiple stores online and in the store and keep note of how much the items you intend to buy regularly are. Then, when your future gifts go on sale, you know if it’s really a good deal. Stores will sometimes raise prices at the beginning of November so that when they put them on sale at Thanksgiving, it seems like a really good deal when in fact it’s the same price it is during the rest of the year.
7. Utilize any loyalty cards, cashback, or percentage-off offers at your favorite stores.
Some of these are limited to credit card holders, so if you use your credit card be sure to pay off the balance before any interest accrues.
8. Try going homemade instead.
Whether it’s baked goods or crafts, going DIY for the holidays can save you money while giving a more memorable gift.
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9. Utilize a Christmas account through your bank.
You can add money as you have it throughout the year or just put all the money you intend to spend on the holidays in your account. Then pull out the money as you shop. You can do the same with cash savings instead. Save during the year or just withdraw the cash from your regular checking account and then shop with cash in hand. Just be careful out there. Unfortunately, thieves are abundant during the holiday season.
10. Make the most detailed shopping list that you can.
Retailers strategically place displays to trigger impulse buys. It actually has a technical term called “shopping momentum effect” because you’re more likely to keep buying once you start. Sticking to your list will prevent this.
11. Don’t be tempted by all the great deals.
If you’re tempted by a “doorbuster” or other deal that’s not on your list, try walking away to give yourself time to think it over. Ask yourself questions like, “Do I really need this?”, “Does this fit into my budget?”, or “Can this wait until my finances are better?” will let you know if it’s a valid purchase.
12. When shopping online, be sure to pay attention to shipping fees.
A purchase that seems like a great deal might not be so great once shipping is added to the total.
And there you have it. My list of ways to keep me (and my budget) on track during the holiday season. What tip do you use to stay on budget? Did it make my list? If not, leave a comment and tell me about it. I can use all the help I can get to keep from overspending!