Freelancer Fonda Semerjian contributed to this post.
If you’re not wrapping up a whirl-wind Hanukkah, chances are you’re counting down the days until Christmas. But be honest: are you also counting down your final dollars?
It’s understandable. Between office parties, family visits and gift giving, this time of year gets expensive. But it’s not too late to salvage things. Here are some tips for climbing back on top of your holiday budget:
- Set a spending limit – Calculate how much money you can easily find in your budget to spend on festivities for the remainder of this holiday season. Make sure bills are paid off and try to limit the need to create new debt where possible.
- Make a last-minute gift list – Who do you still need to shop for? Make an extensive list of all family members, friends, teachers and more that you need to purchase gifts for so you can accurately define your budget, then set a specific amount you want to spend for each category of recipients.
- Shop the deals – Look for last-minute deals on gifts and shipping. For example, Amazon has a whole web section dedicated to last-minute deals on holiday gifts.
- Get creative – Homemade gifts are often the most meaningful. Pinterest is a great app to explore ideas for DIY gifts, but publications like CountryLiving and Good HouseKeeping also feature helpful articles to tackle meaningful creative gifts.
- Watch spending – As you shop, keep a budget sheet and your list on your phone so you can track your progress and limit overspending. As you reach the end of your holiday budget, you might find it useful to use a cash-only system in order to avoid overspending or wracking up credit card debt. If you are using a credit card, try to choose one with the lowest interest rate.
- Set deadlines for new debt – If you do produce debt over the holidays, try to factor it into your New Years resolutions. By 2018, try to have a set date to pay off the holiday debt you’ve accrued.
- Start saving earlier next year – You might also make it a New Years’ resolution to improve your holiday budgeting next year. In January, open a Holiday Club Account at your credit union. This will let you easily set aside money each pay period throughout the year so you’ll be ready to shop more efficiently next season.
Happy holidays and merry budgeting!