Yikes! The months of both November and December seem to be the months where I struggle most with my budget. On one hand, I know the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about toys and big gifts, but I get all caught up in the excitement of everything. I’m trying hard this year and here’s a little help for all of us from Dana.
The following guest post was written by Dana of Not Made of Money:
The holiday shopping season is in full swing. The stores are full of Christmas music, shiny decorations, and bling of every kind at the endcaps….all with the goal of getting you to spend, spend, spend. It’s so easy to give into temptation! While I’m not perfect when resisting temptations (who is?) there are a few little tricks I use to keep myself on track with my budget:
Shop on a Full Stomach
I’ve noticed if I go shopping when I’m hungry I can be more easily swayed by budget temptations. At my SuperTarget, the smell of the Starbucks Coffee usually beckons me and if that doesn’t get me the freshly popped popcorn will. Anyway, I make sure to have a snack before I head out and hit the stores.
Leave the Kids at Home
Likewise, the kids are huge budget distractors! They usually do not accompany me when I am Christmas shopping unless I am shopping for Mr. Not Made of Money. Then we go with a list in hand, they help me hunt for the items on the list, and they know the budget amount we are aiming for.
Set A Christmas Budget Amount
We decide in advance how much money we are going to spend for the holiday season and then we stick to it. Part of this involves tracking our money as we spend it, so we know how much there is left.
Avoid The Credit Card Trap
I use my credit card but keep track of how much we’ve spent so I don’t go over budget. When the bill arrives, it is paid in full. If you don’t trust yourself to keep your credit card purchases in budget, then switch to cash. Don’t let yourself go into the new year with additional debt.
Book in Advance
We don’t usually travel far during the holidays but if we did we would book our reservations well in advance. Shop around online and compare airfares and hotel room fees.
Compile A List Of Prospective Gifts
I always go Christmas shopping with a list in hand…it gives me a sense of direction. Even if I don’t have a specific item on the list, I have people’s names and a budgeted amount listed.
Especially for the children’s gifts, I’ve found that I scored the best prices online this year. Nearly everything had free shipping because it was either a special being offered, or I searched for a promotional code before I purchased.
Plan for The Unexpected
Invariably, there is bound to be one or two gifts we neglected to purchase. I always make sure to have a few generic gifts on hand (homemade jar gifts, inexpensive kid’s game, etc.) to cover those last minute gifts.
What’s your strategy for staying on budget this Christmas?
Tips For Staying On Track With Your Holiday Budget was reprinted with permission from Not Made of Money.
Dana Joseph (otherwise known as Mrs. Not Made of Money), is a SAHM to 4 adorable kiddos. She writes the personal finance blog “Not Made of Money” with her husband where they share money saving tips to help people live a debt free life.