Whether you think holiday shopping is fun or something dreadful, most of us have at least a few gifts to buy on our list, and keeping your finances in check is always a smart plan. Here are a few holiday financial tips to help you do it.
Make a list and a budget and stick to it. Knowing what you want to buy and what you can afford to spend in advance can help you establish a reasonable budget, prevent impulse purchases and look a little more objectively at your spending.
Cut your other expenses. The holidays are coming whether you’re ready or not. If you need some extra money for gifts or holiday gatherings, plan to pack your lunch for a couple of months, find some free entertainment, or skip renewing the gym membership and workout at home.
Shop early. This holiday financial tip can help you get more for your money. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can offer serious deals, depending on what you’re looking for. But even if you don’t do Black Friday, stores have better sales earlier in the season. Researching regular prices ahead of time can help you spot a good deal. Even though last minute shoppers can get good deals on some things, selection can be limited and you may have a harder time finding a substitute if your first choice isn’t available. That can lead to impulse purchases and overspending.
Use coupons. Store discount coupons, e-mail or text coupons, online discount codes and smart phone apps can provide some savings. Shopping at a store that allows you to stack coupons or use multiple offers can help too.
Give DIY gifts. A homemade gift can often convey a more heartfelt sentiment and may save you some money too. If you aren’t creative, shop a craft fair with local artisans or give a food gift from your own kitchen such as homemade jam or a homemade pancake or hot chocolate mix. You could also give your time.
Watch out for credit card purchases and financing deals. Make sure you know what you’re getting into and be honest with yourself about what you can pay off. A few hundred dollars of gifts can end up costing much more if you’re paying them off until summer or longer.
Putting these holiday financial tips into action this year can help keep your spending in check and make your holiday season a little happier.