The holidays are truly a wonderful time of the year. It’s the season of giving and showing others you care. While that always brings good feelings, it can lead to bad spending choices. Unfortunately, bad spending choices can have long-lasting damage. Instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole, I want you to make the most of holiday spending. I want you to spend wisely and in a way that doesn’t leave you behind financially. I’m sharing 6 ways you can make the most of holiday spending, and still come out on top with your budget!
6 Ways to Make the Most of Holiday Spending
#1 – Always have a game plan before going shopping
Before I became budget-conscious, the holidays would always sneak up on me. Before I knew it, another holiday season was here that I didn’t plan for. I would go buy presents without any type of plan or budget. This led to so much extra debt, that took months and months to pay off. Now, I think about my holiday shopping game plan months in advance.
For example, we know Christmas is December 25th, so I’m game planning my holiday shopping in October. I’d like to work towards July or August, but I’m happy with October for now. I think about how much I want to spend in total, how much I want to spend on those I’m shopping for, and how much I want to spend on myself. I also think about what I want to get as presents. That way I’m not caught off-guard by something that’s out of budget.
I know what you’re thinking, “she spends on herself during the holidays?” Yes, I do. Because the sales are too good to pass up, and I wait until this time of the year to stock up on things I need. If you need things, or you’re used to buying things for yourself, you can’t leave that out of your holiday shopping game plan!
#2 – Review your spending limits and be realistic
Once you’ve created your holiday shopping game plan, you need to re-review the spending limits you set. Are they realistic? You can have the best intention of only spending $25 per person, but are you capable of sticking to it? If you know you like to treat those you love during the holidays, setting an unrealistic limit sets you up for failure.
I’m not saying you need to break the bank. I’m also not saying that if you can handle small limits to go higher. I’m saying that you need to be realistic with what you plan on spending. Once you’ve determined a realistic spending limit, take a look at your financials. Does that number put you back at all? Can you start saving for it early? Not only does it need to be a realistic amount to spend, but it needs to be a realistic amount you can afford.
#3 – Do your research and take advantage of sales
When you know your spending limits and you have an idea of what you want to buy, you can start keeping an eye out. Research the same item and different stores. Who has the best price? Who has sales coming up that can bring the price down further? Do the stores have price-matching? Do your research ahead of time, so you aren’t left with the most expensive option.
#4 – Give yourself time to get all of your shopping done
The best thing you can do for your holiday spending is starting early. When you wait until the last minute, your game plan becomes harder and harder to follow. The options are limited and the prices may be higher than what you’d pay had you started earlier.
I give myself two months to get all my shopping done. That way I’m not shelling out all my money at once but over time. It also gives me more of an opportunity to stash extra money away to pay for my gifts. I usually participate in the Frugal Fall Savings Challenge to ensure I have money for holiday shopping. However, setting money aside earlier is always a good tactic.
#5 – Not everyone needs you to spend money on them
If you come to find that you’re not doing a good job of sticking to your budget limits, reassess who you’re buying gifts for. I used to be the person who bought just about anyone in my life a gift. While my intentions were great, it was completely unnecessary. It also cost me a lot more money than I could afford to spend.
Acquaintances and co-workers don’t need lavish gifts. If you feel compelled to get something, buy a bulk set of wine (or anything else) and parse out the inventory. You also can’t go wrong with classic Christmas cards. At the end of the day, the acknowledgment is more important than the gift behind it.
#6 – If it puts you into debt, it’s not a good idea
The last thing I want to leave you with is this…if your holiday spending is putting you into debt, it’s not a good idea. As hard as it may before you to limit the gifts or the spending, it’s absolutely necessary. Your friends and family don’t want you to go into debt for them. This is about you and your need to show people you care. You can show that caring in other ways.
Start breaking the bad holiday spending habits now, so you can master it in the future. Ideally, you’ll be making more money every year, so you don’t want to put yourself behind for the holidays. If you have to take on debt to cover your holiday shopping, reconsider what you’re doing.
If you’re struggling to allocate your income properly, schedule a free consultation with me now and let’s work through it together!
Like I said, the holidays are a wonderful time of the year. You just need to make sure you aren’t overindulging and starting the new year off from behind. There are still plenty of holiday seasons to come! Are you pretty good about spending money during the holidays? What tips do you have to share? Post your feedback in the Comments section below!