The holiday season will be here before we know it, and with that, endless shopping trips and spending. In 2015, the average amount spent on gifts was $882 - that’s not counting food, entertainment, travel, and decorations. Needless to say the costs can put quite a dent in your finances. This year, plan ahead and save up for Christmas. Your bank account and credit card will thank you. Not sure how to start? We have you covered with these five steps.
1. Review how much you spent last holiday season
First thing you should do is review how much you spent last year. Doesn’t sound fun, does it? However, this is one of the most helpful things you can do. You’ll be able to see where most of your money went, take note of unnecessary spending and get a sense of how much you should save.
2. Eliminate unnecessary spending
Take a look at where your money went. Did you spend a lot on food? If you had a lot of leftovers perhaps you overspent. You can also ask friends and family to contribute to any gatherings you are hosting - wine, beer, and cookies are just a few things that are easy to delegate.
Another category you might find yourself spending money on is decorations. If you spent a lot on ornaments and lights, then chances are you don’t need to buy them anymore. Prioritize need over want. And remember, a lot of this stuff goes on clearance after the holidays so you can stock up for next year. Now that’s planning ahead!
3. Plan out your Christmas shopping list
Make a list and check it twice. Who do you need to get gifts for this year? It’s easy to get carried away in the spirit of giving. But remember, an extra $10-$20 here and there adds up quickly. So go in with a plan of who is getting what and stick to it. That can help you set a goal of how much to save and how much to spend on everyone.
4. Look for sales
Remember that shopping list you just made? The sooner you make it the longer you have to look for deals. You will also feel more comfortable shopping around before committing to a purchase since you’re not rushing to get everything done last minute.
Black Friday is a great time for deals, but not always the best. Fortunately, a lot of stores release their specials ahead of time, allowing you to strategize. Cyber Monday also allows you to shop around from the comfort of your own home.
5. Give up a few luxuries
Yes, the holiday season is about giving and getting and treating yourself. However, those things come at a cost. Don’t give in to every single whim and you will be happier financially. Challenge yourself to prioritize what is important and what is just instant gratification.
So there you have it. It’s not fun and it’s not easy, but it will help give you a peace of mind. And it doesn’t have to mean you stop enjoying the holiday festivities - just get creative with them. Instead of buying gifts for coworkers try making some. If you find yourself eating out too much to socialize, suggest getting together for a potluck or a cookie exchange party. After all, it’s not what you do, but who you are with that matters most.