Glowing sales signs and countless advertisements often convince us we need to spend more to enjoy the holidays. In reality, when it comes to celebrating the holidays a little preparation can go a long way. Understanding how to maximize your budget will be your financial foundation for years to come.
Here’s how you can save and spend responsibility during the holiday season.
Create a Holiday Budget
To start off, look at your calendar and decide which events are a priority, and give each occasion a portion of the budget. The same method applies for gifts — set a price limit so it remains fair for everyone and no one is left out because you’ve maxed out the budget. Depending on how you typically spend the holidays, your budget is going to fluctuate — whether you tend to spend more on trips, gifts, decor, or festive spreads.
To assist with the planning, take advantage of the growing list of holiday-inspired mobile apps that are now available. These apps will help you take control over your finances — avoiding the need to look for alternative lenders, often in the form of payday loans. Utilizing a mobile app over the holidays can help you prioritize your spending, equally spreading your income to those necessary expenses without sacrificing those holiday memories.
Trim Expenses Before the Tree
Giving up that five-dollar coffee every morning can make a sizable difference to your holiday budget — start trimming your entertainment-based expenses a couple of months before the holidays, and it will help ease any financial burdens. Planning and adjusting your budget accordingly will allow you to comfortably spend your holiday-centric funds and enjoy the season with your friends and family.
The Sales are Not Savings
It’s easy to get caught up in the door crasher sales and the big, holiday blowouts that take over our shopping centers and our favorite online stores — but if you’re budgeting properly, you need to remember that buying sale items isn’t saving money.
You might think that because you scored a deal on that flat-screen TV that you’re saving money, but that can be a slippery slope to overspending. Buying presents is inevitable for most shoppers during the holidays, but it’s important to differentiate if it is a necessary purchase or if it’s simply the allure of the sale.
Researching is key to any item that would be considered a splurge. Seek out the reviews on your desired product to ensure it’s worth the cost — consumers are generally very honest when they leave product reviews. Calculate the cost-per-use formula — a simple budgeting method where you take the price of the item and divide it by the estimated number of uses. This will give you a clearer idea if this item is going to be worth the price.
Some banks offer an autosave feature that will automatically transfer your desired amount of money into a separate account. This is a handy tool that you should consider utilizing at the beginning of every calendar year, to give you a leg-up when the holidays arrive and you have to create that specific budget.
It’s the Thought that Counts
One of the easiest ways to save money during the holidays is by giving a gift that is time-centric and not monetary. Offer to help a friend take care of their pet when their schedule is too heavy, or bake a batch of something delicious — you’ll likely already have most of the ingredients at home.
A framed photo of a special memory can be a sentimental option while still being cost-effective. Ultimately, the holidays are about making memories of important people in our lives. The gift-giving aspect is great if you can afford it, but don’t forget that it’s the thought that counts.
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