The holidays are a time of joy and fun, but shopping for them may not be. To help alleviate the stress of gifting this season, try creating a holiday spending plan. Here are some tips that can help with stress-free holiday shopping on a budget.
Make a List of Expenses
Make a list of all the holiday expenses you have – gifts to buy, wrapping paper, holiday cards, work gifts, donations, decorations and shipping costs. Writing down expenses will remind you what you need to shop for, keep you organized and help make you focused.
Create a Spending Limit
Figure out how much money you want to spend on gifts and other holiday items. You should have one or two ideas for each person within your price range. Setting limits will keep your holiday budget on track.
Sometimes you’ll find a great gift that costs too much and puts you over budget. You don’t want to overspend, but before you abandon the gift idea check to see if you can find a better price for the item elsewhere. Stores often run sales during the holidays and many have price-match policies.
Don’t wait too long to shop for the holidays. The items you want may be unavailable, you could miss out on big sales, and you are more likely to overspend if you need to buy gifts at the last minute. Buying presents right before the holiday can also be incredibly stressful.
Keep Track of Your Spending
During the holiday season, make sure to monitor your accounts and make sure you aren’t going over your budget. You can do this by reviewing your paper account statements, or logging into your bank account online. A good way to keep track of your checking account and credit card spending is to use a financial app like mint.com, which allows you to monitor, track and sort purchases in real time.
Make Your Own Gifts
If you need to keep spending low this holiday, consider giving homemade presents to your family and friends. You can find some ideas at RealSimple.com.
Factor in Shipping Costs
An expense that often seems to sneak into holiday budgets is shipping. Whether you plan to send gifts yourself or have an online store ship them, take note of the delivery costs. Look for free shipping coupons or other deals from stores that may reduce this additional cost.