Many call the holidays the "most wonderful time of the year," but if you're on a budget, they can actually be pretty painful. With the right preparation, though, you can make it through and manage to have a great time, too. Check out our tips below to help you celebrate the season without any tears when bills arrive in the mail.
Look to the past
We've all had those months when we look back at our spending and shake our head. Before you start buying gifts and going out for the holidays this year, take a little bit of time to think about what happened last year. Is there a particular spending habit that really broke your budget? Did you do something that, looking back, was probably not very smart? Remember those things and moments as you look forward to this holiday season and approach it much more wisely than you did before.
Write it down
When you have a set budget that you can spend on gifts and festivities this year, write it down. Then, start deciding where that money will go. Set a maximum cost for each person you're giving gifts to, and stick to it. Don't forget to leave a portion of money for the holiday parties and other events you have to attend during the season. When making a holiday budget, FeedThePig.org stresses the importance of writing the list down, both so that you don't forget anyone when calculating in your head, and so you can hold yourself accountable later. Having a list also helps you avoid impulsive spending that can add up quickly.
Keep the list manageable
This is a great season to show the people in your life that you care. However, buying presents for everyone can add up quickly. PracticalMoneySkills.com recommends that you look at the list of people you're considering buying for and see if you can pare it down or consolidate costs. That's not to say you have to kick your coworkers off of the list, but maybe instead of a gift for every person in the office, you could spend less money by buying a present for everyone to share. Food for breakfast or a coffee that everyone likes to drink is more affordable for you, and won't gather dust in someone's cubicle.
Use your smartphone
We are so lucky in this day and age to have the power of the internet and shopping applications on the smartphones in our pocket. When you're out shopping, USNews.com stresses the importance of using the devices to compare prices across the internet before you actually put any of your hard-earned money down. Several stores will actually price match select competitors, especially during the holiday season, so sometimes you won't even have to go to another store or wait for a delivery to save money.
These budgeting tips aren't difficult or time-consuming, but they can make a world of difference in your spending. If you head into this holiday season properly prepared, you will have more fun because you won't be worried about unmanageable credit card debt down the road.
This article is presented by Colonial Honda of Dartmouth in N. Dartmouth, Massachusetts.