When the bills for all the gifts, food, and merrymaking come in January, all those ho-ho-ho’s are likely to turn to oh-oh-oh-my’s if you don’t watch your spending! With all the “good deals” and the desire to make this the best holiday ever, it’s easy to lose track of just how much you’re spending.
Make it a goal to be budget-conscious and do your shopping with your money blinders on tight. These tips for avoiding common spending traps are a great place to start:
1. Stick to a budget
See something you like? It’s okay to treat yourself, especially if you find a great deal. But stick to a budget. A great way to do this is to budget an amount for each person on your list: if you find their gift for less than what you planned to spend, use the difference for yourself.
An even better approach: take those savings as a blessing and don’t spend the difference. If you find something you really want, make a note and share it with someone who wants to buy you a gift.
2. Shop early
Retailers take advantage of desperation as the holidays get closer. Your best bet is to do as much of your shopping as possible in November and early December before prices start to increase. Retailers usually offer good deals during this time, including free shipping offers, coupons, and free gifts with purchase.
3. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale
You’re going to find some great prices on certain items, some that might even seem too good to be true. But before you add to cart, consider whether you really need that item. Is it something you or your recipient really wants or needs? A good price isn’t a good reason to buy.
4. Compare prices at different places
Many of the same products are available at multiple retailers. Comparison shopping is a great way to ensure you’re truly getting the best deal. Saving a few dollars on each item because you compared prices beforehand can really add up in savings.
Plus, if a retailer has a minimum order requirement to get free shipping, you might find another retailer with the same item and lower or no minimums. This is a great way to avoid buying more than what you really need just to get free shipping.
5. Track your spending on non-gift items
Did you know that roughly 42% of all holiday spending isn’t spent on gifts? According to NewMiddleClass.org, consumers spend a considerable sum on travel, parties, meals, decorations, and charities during the holiday season. Make sure you’re tracking these expenses, too, as they all come out of your personal bottom line.
Remember, the best holidays aren’t ones that force you into debt. Stick to simplicity and savings – you’ll make your loved ones happy and give yourself a gift, too!