When it comes to budgeting for the holidays, it’s all about personal finance. Learn when to start saving, what holiday expenses to lookout for, how to take advantage of your credit card rewards, and so much more.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It can also be the most stressful when the expenses pile up. Just like any other time of the year, it’s smart to have a plan and a budget.
Six tips and tricks that will help you create a holiday budget this season.
1. Start saving early
The holidays always seem to sneak up, which is why it is important to start saving early! Create a holiday savings account to help you save money for the season. A separate savings account will help you distinguish holiday funds from other necessities. Give yourself a set deposit schedule for how much you want to save per week or month.
You can even think of this type of savings account as similar to an emergency fund. Building an emergency fund takes commitment and effort. It can be tempting to spend this money for non-emergency purposes, but if you refrain from doing so, you can rest easy knowing you’re covered when the next unexpected life event or major expense comes along.
The same holds true for your holiday savings account. When you build up that savings account, you won’t have to worry about the potential of being unable to purchase something for everyone on your list or having to cancel your holiday plans.
2. Write a gift list
Create a list of the family members and friends you wish to shop for this holiday season. Then write down your gift idea(s) and a price range you plan to spend on each person. This will give you a better idea of the actual numbers that are involved in your spending.
A good idea for creating a gift list would also be to find an online gift registry, such as Giftster, that you, your family, and friends can access while shopping for one another.
You can add items from any retailer or use the optional Amazon search. You can also track the purchase status of gifts to prevent double-gifting and returns. Keep the gifts a surprise! Purchases will remain hidden from the list maker. Add gift preferences to share your sizes, colors, and interests.
Developing a group with your friends or family will not only make your holiday gifting easy, but it will give you a clear view of what your budget should be for each person.
3. Shop the deals
One of the best tricks when sticking to a budget is to take full advantage of the holiday sales/deals. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday will certainly be jam-packed with some of the best deals of the year, but did you know most retailers have already begun their sales this season online? Some stores are even offering free holiday shipping for online purchases/orders.
Try not to get too carried away in these great deals/sales while holiday shopping. Make sure to stick to the items you have budgeted for on your gift list.
4. Use your credit card carefully
If you’re planning to use a credit card to purchase gifts on your shopping list, be sure you pay it off each month to protect your credit score. Using credit cards can be a helpful way of keeping track of how much you spend on gifts within your credit card app.
If you’ve accrued credit card rewards points, consider using them for your holiday shopping. You can often redeem points as gift cards. Use them as gifts for people on your list or to purchase gifts at a retail or online store.
Of course, tracking your budget can even be as simple as starting a new notepad (or spreadsheet) page on your phone and documenting your holiday spending. There are several apps and online budgeting calculators out there that give you the capability to easily add your monthly income, plan your expenses, and track your spending.
5. Holiday expenses to look out for
Gifts aren’t the only things you need to work into your budget this season. Be sure you factor in these additional holiday expenses: wrapping paper, cards, postage, decorations, food, entertainment, and travel expenses. These expenditures are often overlooked when you’re consumed with holiday shopping, but they can often amount to as much or more than you will spend on gifts.
6. Consider a fixed-rate personal loan
A great tool when budgeting for all of your holiday expenses is a fixed-rate personal loan. This loan will help you stick to your budget. Unlike credit cards, a fixed-rate loan will let you know exactly how much you will pay per month and how long it will take to pay it off. If you have saved in advance, then use that money to pay off the loan.
You’ve got this!
There’s no need to let this budget talk dampen your holiday spirit. Apply these simple and beneficial tips while creating your budget for a cheerful and worry-free holiday season.
Your local Regional Finance branch is ready to help. Whether you need a personal loan or help to keep your budget on track, we’re here for you. Get your loan process started by prequalifying now online or call your local branch.
You can prequalify for your loan online in just minutes. Or, if you prefer, call or stop by your local branch. Our loan specialists can answer any questions and help you fill out an application for the personal loan that fits your needs.