November 10, 2021
As we head into the holiday season there are numerous factors causing stress; shipping delays, product shortages and an overabundance of sale advertising on top of the typical holiday stress of scheduling, cooking, and traveling. One way to alleviate some of the stress is to come up with a solid spending plan.
A great place to start is to determine how much you spent in 2020 – look up your bank and/or credit card statements for a general idea of how much you will need to budget for this year. In general, one rule of thumb is to spend 1.5% of your income (MAX) on holiday expenses. However, it’s important to evaluate what is best for you and your family. Afterall, the past couple of years have been pretty rough and it’s ok if you need to adjust your budget.
Your next step is to create a list of everything you need to buy for the holidays and the costs associated with those items. For example: gifts, shipping fees, travel costs, groceries, decorations, charitable donations, etc. Use this handy list to check your list twice!
Once you have your list in place, make sure the total matches up with the amount you have available to spend. If your list exceeds what’s available in your budget, use some of these tips to find where you can trim.
- Rethink your gift list – change up your gift giving this year; suggest a white elephant exchange or secret Santa for your family, friend group or coworkers.
- Save costs on wrapping paper and cards – reuse old gift bags, turn newspaper into creative wrapping paper, or make DIY cards with your kids.
- LOOK FOR THE DEALS – now is the time to sign up for eMail and text alerts for sales. If you start early, you could save lots of money!
- Use your reward points – you can cash in on those reward points you’ve been saving to get discounts or even free travel. Now is the time to utilize them!
- Use your phone to price check – there are many apps that will compare prices in your location before you buy.
The final, IMPORTANT step – Keep checking your budget. Visit your budget regularly to make sure you are on track. If you spend more in a certain category, be sure to adjust accordingly in another. By checking in every few days, you will stay right on track.
It’s an exciting yet stressful time of year. Don’t let your spending overshadow the joy of the season. Be prepared.