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Ten Steps to Help Budget for the Holidays

By SDCCU , 20.11.2018 Financial Education
Ten Steps to Help Budget for the Holidays
The holidays can be stressful enough without losing control of your spending. Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank by following a few these tips to make the holiday season more joyous:
  1. Draw up a holiday budget: Work out how much money you have available to spend on the holidays overall. In addition to your gifting budget, consider holiday meals, extra money spent at the grocery store for baking supplies and parties! If your plans include travel, be sure to account for accommodations, travel costs, food and fun money. It is important to think of all of the expenses you may face over the holiday season. Once you have an idea of how much you need, you can plan your budget holiday more accurately.
  2. Use cash for your spending: The problem with using your credit card is that it is all too easy to overspend. By using cash, once your budget is gone, it is gone.
  3. Be creative in your gift giving: If you have a particular craft you enjoy, you may decide to gift people some of your homemade creations. Even if you aren’t the crafty type, offers of babysitting for young parents, or errand running for older adults are two choices that are sure to be well received. A small, thoughtful gift is worth more than an expensive gift that someone may never use.
  4. Have a plan for each shopping trip: Know what you are looking for, which stores you plan to visit, and what you hope to accomplish. If you decide to just wander around the mall or your local big box store, you are likely to buy things that catch your eye or seem like a good deal, but are not necessarily a good gift.
  5. If you are going to travel - download travel apps: There are a number of flight comparison apps that will send you push notifications when the cost of the flight you’re looking at drops. Also, don’t forget to check your credit card for airline miles or points!
  6. Plan a pot luck: For a true holiday on a budget, organize a pot luck among your friends and families. You can provide the main dish and let your friends help by bringing side dishes, salads, desserts and drinks.
  7. Shop online: You can save you money and time as you comparison shop online. Don’t forget to look for free shipping codes and order in plenty of time for your gifts to arrive to avoid additional shipping costs. Many online stores offer extra savings and free shipping over the Black Friday weekend and be sure to check out the Cyber Monday sales too.
  8. Make your own "Naughty" or "Nice" lists: Santa has to buy presents for the whole world, but you don't. If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, cut down on the number of people on your present list. Then, bake some cookies to give to all the people you snipped from your original gift list. This will ensure you spread the holiday cheer without looking like a Scrooge.
  9. Use coupons and coupon code collectors: Sales aren't the only way to get great deals on the gifts you want for your friends or family. Before you shop online, perform a quick web search for coupon codes for your favorite online stores. Before you shop in local stores, comb through the coupons you received in your mailbox before hitting the mall. While you search through the flyers, make sure to comparison shop for the item you're interested in. Savings of $10 to $100 can happen just by keeping your eyes peeled for deals.
  10. Organize group volunteering instead of holiday parties: Your friends probably struggle with overspending as much as you do over the holidays. Give them the relief of forgoing buying gifts for you by organizing a group volunteer day instead. You'll get to spend quality time together - plus, you'll come out of the day feeling proud of your efforts rather than suffering from buyer's remorse. Everyone benefits from volunteering.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to manage your spending over the holiday season. By doing so, you can relax and enjoy the time with family and friends, without stressing out about what the new year holds. Sticking to a realistic budget will allow you to make the most of the money you have available and prevent you from overspending. If you plan and create a budget far enough in advance, you will have time to save more, shop around for the best deals, prepare for bills in the new year and most importantly, remain organized and stress free.

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