With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to make a plan. What are you willing to spend money on this holiday season? Do you have a set budget or at least an idea of what you can afford? If you don’t, you’re likely to overspend. The excitement of Black Friday and Christmas can make that very easy to do. After all is said and done, you’re stuck with a big bundle of credit card bills and costly debt.
Hopefully you were able to create a holiday savings plan early in the year and have been putting money aside each week or month in anticipation for the holidays, but if not, all is not lost. There are still some things you can do to help keep your holiday spending at bay.
Here’s how you can keep from overspending this holiday season:
- Make a list and stick to it. After you’ve determined what you can spend, divide the amount among recipients and don’t deviate away from it. Watch the sales ads and use coupons to make your dollars stretch. Buy gift cards that give you an extra incentive like $25 worth of cards for $20. That extra $5 could be used for someone else’s gift.
- Avoid pulling out your credit cards to make purchases. It’s just too easy to spend money when you don’t have to account for it. Pay for your presents with cash and ask for a gift receipt. This will make it easier for the receiver of the gift to return it if he or she has to.
- Start early. Don’t wait for Black Friday. Start looking for clearance racks and aisles. Search the classified ads and watch sales flyers. You never know when the item you’re looking for will be reduced.
- Make gifts. If you have a talent like knitting, woodworking or jewelry making, put those skills to use. Not only will you save money, you’ll be giving the people on your gift list something they’ll love and cherish forever. Besides, you’ll have a lot of fun making the item in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
- Skip Going Out on Black Friday. Blasphemy, you might say, but Black Friday isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, there are some deals to be had, but it’s getting worked up about the “event” that Black Friday is and the excitement of being out there shopping that can lead to buying stuff you don’t need, or simply buying things that seem like a great deal at the time, but in hindsight weren’t a great buy. Sleep in on Friday and do your shopping at a leisurely pace online. No pressure, no crowds, and you can take the time to comparison shop to make sure you truly are getting a deal and not just buying into hype.
Don’t be afraid to get your family involved with your plan. The more people on board with you the better. Save your money and enjoy yourself after the holidays. While everyone else is trying to sort out their credit card debt, you’ll be sitting back in your recliner planning a spring vacation with the money you saved.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.