This time of year can make it tempting to overspend. It’s easy to get in the holiday spirit and become a tad too generous with your cash. This is especially true if you received a bonus. That check has a way of burning a hole in your pocket, eliciting a strong desire to spend. Before you know it, your budget is busted and your bank account balance is at an all-time low. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t blow through all your cash.
1. Devise a spending plan
Before you start shopping for gifts, devise a budget for all your holiday purchases. Make sure your budget is neither too restrictive nor too loose.
“[Budgeting] really means not living beyond your means, whether that is in the present or in the future. A plan is needed, along with a great deal of discipline in setting a budget for any outgoing funds. This can be comparable to a dieter who needs to choose which foods to eat, instead of not eating much of anything at all,” said financial expert Leonard Campbell.
2. Leave the kids at home
If you have children, try not to bring them with you when you go holiday shopping. You’ll likely be feeling more generous, and succumb to their pleading for the latest tech toy or clothing item. Avoid the temptation to overspend on your children by not having them accompany you.
If your kids are very young, of course make sure they don’t stay home alone (we probably shouldn’t have to make that clear, but you never know). If you have no choice and you need to bring the kids with you, we’ll have another post in the coming weeks on how to shop with your kids without busting your budget.
3. Don’t shop too much for yourself
It’s fine to pick up gifts for yourself, just don’t get carried away. Resist the urge to think of reasons why you need to buy more. If you need help staying on track, set a specific dollar amount for the purchases you will make for yourself. Once you meet that set amount, stop spending.
4. Take advantage of free shipping and deals
When shopping online, make an extra effort to look for free shipping deals and coupon codes. This will reduce your costs and possibly help you stay within your spending plan. Every December, many retailers participate in Free Shipping Day. Before you begin shopping, take a look and see if the stores you plan to visit will be among the participants.
5. Use cash when you can
Unless you’re doing all of your holiday shopping online, use cash instead of plastic. When you use a credit card for purchases, you’ll be more likely to overspend. However, when you have cash in your hand, you’ll be more aware of how much money you’re spending on each purchase.
6. Look for gift alternatives
Don’t give into the pressure to buy expensive gifts. You always have the option of re-gifting, participating in a holiday volunteer project, or opting out altogether. Remember that the holidays are about friends, family, and community.