The holidays are a joyous time for many, but it can also be a stressful one, particularly if you’re concerned about your finances. Gifts, dinners out and special events can get expensive, and the dollars add up quickly if you’re not careful. With a little planning and foresight, however, it’s possible to keep yourself from overspending and still enjoy the holidays. Here are some tips to help keep your holidays happy and affordable always.
Holiday financial planning doesn’t need to start in November or December. It can begin as soon as New Year’s Day is done. Starting a holiday fund at the beginning of the year, such as a Club Savings Account, will allow you to put away small amounts of money on a weekly or monthly basis, which can really add up in the end. If you have an idea of how much extra you typically spend during the holidays, you can even figure out how much you need to put away each time. If you are not sure, or just on a tight budget, put away what you can because every little bit helps.
Another activity you can start early in the year is gift shopping. This will help spread out your spending, so it is less daunting than paying for everything over the course of one month. It will also allow you to look for deals on some items that may not be available during the height of holiday shopping. While you may not know every gift you want to buy at the start of the year, there are probably at least a few you can figure out.
Before the holidays arrive, make a budget. First, determine how much you have and want to spend. Then compile a list of all of the things you plan to spend on and how much they will cost. If you find yourself planning for more than you can afford, break your list down into necessities and luxuries, then prune it down until you’re within your spending limit. Having a defined list and knowing ahead of time what you can afford to buy will help you avoid buying unnecessary items that will put you over your maximum amount. In addition to setting a spending limit, there are many ways to maximize the dollars you have. You can comparison shop to find lower prices, be on the lookout for sales/deals, use coupons whenever possible and take advantage of websites that offer cash back when you link to other shopping sites through them. Even small savings can really add up if you’re using them consistently.
Remember, chances are good you are not the only one trying to stick to a budget. Talk to family and friends about setting spending limits on things like gifts or eating out. This can help relieve the financial pressure on everyone. Though it can be fun to indulge at the holidays, spending more than you can afford can put a damper on your enjoyment (sometimes for months afterward). Controlling your finances may be challenging and you may be tempted to overindulge, but afterwards you will likely be happy that you didn’t overspend. With a little planning and effort, you can still enjoy the holidays and not be burdened with excessive bills in the new year.
Spencer Savings Bank offers Club Savings Accounts which are a great way to save for a specific occasion, like the holidays. They make it easy to save when it is convenient for you – save as little or as much as you like throughout the year and receive a check before the holidays with your holiday shopping funds!