The holiday season is one of the most stressful and challenging times of the year when it comes to money. With gifts and decorations to buy, large meals to plan, travel, and events there always seems to be something to spend money on.
This year, avoid debt by avoiding these common holiday season money mistakes.
Impulse purchases are more common at this time of year than any other. You see “just a little something” that a friend or family member might like and you want to add it to your gift giving list. Or, you’re drawn in by all the great holiday sales and purchase things you want for yourself.
At this time of year, you need a budget. Know what you can afford to spend, without using credit, and limit yourself to that amount. Create a special holiday budget that includes the gifts you want to give, the parties you want to throw, and the events you want to attend. Limit your budget to the amount you have pre-determined you can afford.
Forgetting the Extras
When planning your budget, don’t forget the things most people don’t budget for. This includes greeting cards, postage, wrapping paper, décor, and higher electric bills for all your holiday lights.
Not Shopping Around
A good deal is only a good deal if it fits your budget AND it’s something from your list. Before heading out to the stores, do some online research to find out where you can get the best deal. Make sure you include any shipping fees in your decision to buy. If it’s something that commonly goes on sale for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, wait to see if it does.
Use the same plan for holiday food shopping. Check the sale papers from the local stores to find the best deals. Some stores offer discounts while others offer free food if you spend a minimum amount. Do your research to figure out which one saves you the most.
Not Starting Early
People who wait until a week before the holiday spend more money because they’re in a panic and didn’t plan very well. Start your shopping early. This includes gifts and groceries.
Make a list of gifts you need to purchase and start shopping early so you know, with plenty of notice, if there’s anything you forgot. Make sure you hold on to your receipts in case you find a better deal somewhere else.
If you’re hosting a holiday meal, plan your menu and your guest list so that you know how much food you need to purchase. Start buying non-perishable items early. This will help you avoid a large one-time grocery bill.
Thinking You Need to Buy for Everyone
You don’t need a gift for every co-worker, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, and neighbor. When it comes to family members, if you have a large family, draw names and let each family member purchase a gift for just one other family member.
Bake cookies and brownies to take to the office and give to your neighbors. It’s thoughtful and inexpensive.
A little advance planning, list making, and budgeting can help you avoid some of the most common money mistakes people make. You can enjoy a budget-friendly, debt-free holiday season; it just takes a little work.