Christmas is just around the corner, and we all know how it is! With Michael Jackson’s classic holiday hit “Give Love on Christmas Day” playing in just about every store, we all can get a little overeager and exhilarated about giving gifts and throwing lavish parties for our loved ones—only to be surprised by the time January rolls in and we’ve spent all that bonus.
Generosity is perfectly fine, but one doesn’t have to overspend to have the best Christmas ever. Avoid overspending and that imminent holiday debt with these Christmas budget-buster tips this holiday:
1. Plan it.
Before diving into your Christmas shopping, set a budget and a gift list a couple of weeks before December.
Create a spending plan that lists who you need to buy gifts for and how much you’ll be spending. You should have an idea of how much you’re about to spend since your holiday budget is likely to be similar to the money you spent last year.
It’s important to plan early because it removes the deadline’s pressure. The less time you have for shopping, the more you’re likely to spend just to cross of a loved one’s name on your list.
2. Set aside money.
Saving up for a holiday and paying for gift items and other expenses with cash is usually the best option for your finances.
Paying by credit is only a good idea if you pay off your bill quickly and in full with the cash you’ve already saved up. Otherwise, you could be paying hundreds of pounds extra in interest. Some travel firms also charge you a fee for using a credit card to pay for your holiday trips.
3. Keep track of expenses.
The budget you set won’t be any good if you lose track of your expenses. Keep a separate Christmas fund in a dedicated bank account if that’ll help. It’ll also make it easier for anyone to separate holiday spending from the usual, day-to-day expenses.
Spreadsheets are also an excellent and accurate way to track your holiday expenditures. By establishing a budget and entering your actual expenses, you can easily keep yourself on track. Be sure to remain diligent!
4. Cut back on extras.
We’re all guilty of indulging a little more than we should during the holidays. We splurge on holiday offerings in restaurants, get a new pair of shoes, and pay for a photo with Santa.
But you can’t get stuck in a trap where constant spending on “extras” eats into your budget. Cut back! The money could pay for a few more Christmas gifts, gas, or even a donation to a charity. Make sure the money is worth it before spending!
5. Shop early.
If you’re the type of person who digs deep into sales ahead of the Christmas rush, you’re likely to find the perfect and affordable Christmas presents.
Shopping ahead can help you make the most out of seasonal pricing trends. Spreading out your spending is also a good way to avoid using credit cards.
People usually reach for their credit cards at Christmas because they’ve run out of time, and buying everything at once is their only option.
6. Keep traditions simple but meaningful.
If the annual family Christmas party you throw involves lavish attractions and upscale cuisine, it’s high time you ditch it.
While traditions are important and admirable, they don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids prefer the cheap stuff than the grander gestures.
So many activities and traditions are inexpensive, or even free – you just have to know where to look. By making cheaper events and traditions part of your celebration, you can save money without skimping on the festivities and memories.
7. Potluck works every single time.
Preparing food for 50 plus relatives and friends is seriously pricey, and if not for potluck assignments, you’re be spending most of your holiday budget on just food and drinks.
Communicate to everyone that you’ll be making the main dish and that you’d appreciate if someone will take care of the sides, appetizers, desserts, and drinks.
Assigning the young ones to come up with games and activities will also be a nice way to involve everyone.
8. Pick your plastic.
If you have to charge your holiday purchases, make sure to pick wisely the credit card you want to use. Negotiate a low-interest rate on it if you think you’ll be carrying a balance.
If you happened to max out all your credit cards before Christmas, make sure to pay debts before the holiday rush. If you’re having trouble, reaching out to credit card counseling is never a bad thing.
9. Be cautious around sales.
Sales may get you into thinking that stuff you’re buying is cheap, and you’ll spend less. But, always be wary! Not all deals are created equal, and some may not even be truly discounted, as some stores keep prices the same but mark items with a “sale” sign.
Do your research by comparing items from different shops. If you tend to fall victim to the festive atmosphere of a store and make unwise purchases, try buying solely online. You can snag great deals and use coupon codes to get a lot more for your money.
Of course, you never save money by spending, regardless of how significant the discount is. Sales are great, but they don’t mean much if the money isn’t in your budget.
10. Know when to stop.
Stop shopping when you’ve crossed off everything on your list. Avoid stopping by the mall to “see what else they have.” This only leads to impulsive shopping, which defeats the purpose of keeping a budget and following a checklist.
11. Get a head start and make a financial plan for the new year.
The period right after the holidays is the appropriate time to check over your finances and make plans for the new year such as by planning a credit card strategy.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have put anything on your credit card that you couldn’t pay off in a month, but if you went overboard, commit to a payment plan that eliminates your balances within the next three or four months.
12. Give group gifts.
When exchanging presents within large groups, token gifts can add up to your expenses. A white elephant exchange, the secret Santa strategy, or tag-teaming with co-workers on a gift for a boss will save you from additional spending.
13. Give back.
If you’re looking for a way to give back because it’s Christmas, it’s best to give monthly gifts for donations, volunteer, or in-kind support on behalf of a friend or family member and surprise them at Christmas time. Coordinating with charities is an excellent way to package this endeavor.
14. Stock up on supplies.
What’s the one thing (other than cash) that you never have too much of at the holidays? Time.
Buy candles, glass or crystal items, ribbon, faux greens, wreath forms, and other items now when you see a good price, as the selection is better earlier.
Plus, having time to search for those supplies also gives you the chance to stretch your imagination. Start looking at inexpensive store merchandise with an eye toward the holidays.
15. Use social media.
Follow your favorite retailers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Companies offer discounts that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
A quick search of their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.
With marketing strategies geared towards making everyone empty their wallets in the spirit of Christmas, it’s difficult not to fall prey. If you’ve got a plan in place and know how to stretch each holiday peso, you don’t have to fear your bank account statement next year.
If you run out of budget and are in need of fast cash, PawnHero offers a safe, fast, and convenient method for pawning your items.
Latest posts by Denise Foz (see all)
- 10 Legit Ways Pinoys Can Do to Make Money from Home - January 27, 2016
- 5 Money Habits Filipinos Should Forget Now - January 25, 2016
- 10 Money Mistakes Pinoys Should Stop Making in 2016 - January 19, 2016