January 2016 may seem like it’s a ways off, but the holiday season is right around the corner. And, while it’s exciting to think about getting together with friends and family, for some, the price tag on yuletide spirit can be a bit jarring come the New Year. That is why we’ve compiled easy budgeting tips that can make this holiday merrier for those you love—and less scary when you see your credit card bill:
Be a gift-giver who makes a list and checks it twice. Spur-of-the-moment purchases can drive financial overreach during the holidays. Make a list of those you’re going to buy for, assign an amount you’re comfortable spending on them and then calculate the total for all your giftees. You may be surprised by the total and readjust some numbers or cut down your list.
Act nice to your wallet now, so you can be naughty later. Tightening the purse strings in anticipation of the shopping free-for-all that happens around Black Friday isn’t just frugal—it’s downright smart. Implement cost saving strategies now, such as buying non-name-brand products at the store, eating out less and immediately tucking away a percentage of each paycheck, so you’re ready for holiday season shopping.
Be the brightest bulb on the tree when it comes to gift-giving. There can sometimes be a barrage of events during the holiday season. Upside: lots of fun. Downside: the costs of hosting or bringing gifts to every party can really add up. If you’re the one doing the entertaining, ask guests to bring a dish to share so you don’t break the bank on food. To maximize savings without minimizing fun, try a new way of giving. Instead of traditional gift-giving, offer up a party theme of volunteer tasks that friends can help each other with over the next year. Saving money and helping friends will put everyone in the holiday spirit!
Have a holly jolly hold on your credit cards. Because credit card transactions typically come in a statement about a month or so later, it’s important you don’t unknowingly overspend. There are tools and resources available so you can keep constant tabs on where and how much you’ve spent. Utilize online and mobile banking to track your purchases and account balance—and to get a gut check on if you need to pull back the spending reins or even return an unnecessary purchase.
Fa-la-la-la-lawlessly save year-round. Even before the holidays arrive, you can be shopping like a star. There are several habits you can practice to find savings and deals that add dollars to your wallet and subtract stress at the register. For example, shop with retailers who provide free shipping, see if your employer or financial institution offers a shopping rewards program, and call in-store to see if high-ticket deals are limited to a certain number of products (if so, get there early!).
Your holidays don’t need to cause you anxiety. Enjoy worry-free and fun-filled festivities by using these tips to add some sense to your season and money to your wallet. That way, you won’t be making a financial New Year’s resolution in 2016.