excited shopper holding shopping bags on christmas

8 Ways to Budget & Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season

 The holidays are approaching all too quickly. Many businesses and industries, including the toy industry, are warning of potential shortages throughout the holiday season. Meanwhile, many people are struggling to maintain their budgets.

How can you avoid overspending during the holidays? Try some of these key budgeting tips that can help you avoid overspending.

1. Make your listor listsnow!

Yes, it’s only October. Yes, you have time before you have to complete your shopping. That makes it the perfect time to get started planning for the holidays.

Start writing your lists. You may need a list of:

  1. People you want (or need) to buy gifts for
  2. People you want to make gifts for, and the supplies you will need
  3. Holiday events you will likely attend and anything you need to take to each one
  4. Special food and other items you want to prepare for the holidays

Then, assign a dollar amount that you are both willing and able to spend for those individuals and those items. By preparing your budget ahead of time, you can make your search for the perfect holiday gifts and items much easier.

2. Plan ahead for major events. 

Do you have holiday events that you attend with your family every year–particularly events that you know will have ticket costs or other hidden expenses built in? Remember that list you made? Note the cost of those events. If they aren’t in your budget this year, consider lower-cost ways to incorporate those events into your holiday plans. For example, many major productions and performances may still be virtual this coming year. You might find that mixing up some hot cocoa and going for a drive to see the lights is just as much fun as walking through the huge Christmas Tree fair event at your local event center. Prioritize the events that have the greatest meaning to your family and let the ones that don’t really matter go.

3. Consider what gifts you can make by hand

Some of the best gifts you can give to your loved ones and everyone else on your gift list–the kids’ teacher, for example–are handmade, straight from the heart. Do you have a specific craft that you love? Consider how you can use that skill to create gifts for some of the people on your list. Even if you aren’t crafty, you could try gifts like:

  1. Homemade sugar scrubs
  2. Baked goods
  3. The ingredients to baked goods in a jar, which your recipients can prepare whenever they like
  4. Homemade heating pads
  5. Plants that you’ve helped to grow while waiting to gift them (or clippings from your current garden)
  6. No-sew fleece blankets
  7. Sock and fingernail polish cupcakes for the young ladies in your life
  8. Homemade vanilla or infused oils

As you’re creating your craft list, however, make sure that you take a couple of things into account. First, make sure you have a general idea of how much those items will cost. While it’s often possible to make a bulk quantity of many gifts for a discount, if you’re just making one or two gifts, you may find that it costs more to make something than it does to buy it. Second, make sure you know approximately how long it will take you to create the items you have in mind. Remember, your time has value, too!

4. Stick to your budget for each person

You found the perfect gift for your sister, and it’s only $10 more than you had originally budgeted! You found a great teacher gift, and it’s only $5 out of your budget. You had planned to spend about $20 less on your mother’s gift, but your brother backed out at the last minute, and now you’re on the hook for it–and you don’t want to have to come up with something else.

Sound familiar?

Budget creep is an all-too-common problem over the holiday season. Don’t let it suck you in! Instead, assign a specific budget to the people on your list and stick to it! Don’t let yourself go “just a little” over.

5. Don’t forget the little things

The small items you buy for the holidays can add up more than you think–and unfortunately, all too many people forget to add them in. Make sure your holiday budget includes items like:

  1. Wrapping paper, tape, and bows
  2. A few last-minute gifts (for those things that inevitably come up unexpectedly)
  3. Any decor you plan to buy
  4. Clothing and special items

6. Start shopping now

As sales happen, go ahead and pick up some of the items you need now. Make sure to mark those items off your budget and stick to it! Whenever possible, avoid last-minute spending, which is the most likely to cause you to go way over budget. You don’t have to go shopping crazy, especially this early, but it may be beneficial to pick up a few things each paycheck.

7. Plan ahead for major holiday meals

Create a menu plan for major holiday meals that you know you’ll be hosting. If you’re tight on funds, consider asking other guests to contribute to a potluck-style meal–which has the added advantage of taking some of the pressure of planning off of your shoulders! Shop sale ads leading up to the big day to get better deals on those great holiday foods. For example, you may be able to get a Christmas turkey on sale shortly after Thanksgiving! Consider planning your holiday meals based on what sales are available as you shop, too.

8. Keep it simple

Whether it’s about decorating or gifts, it’s easy to get extravagant over the holidays. This year, however, commit to keeping it simple. Don’t feel as though you have to overdo everything or take it all to extremes. Instead, commit to living within your means this holiday season–and reap the benefits all year long. It’s like a holiday gift to yourself!

These tips can help you keep your budget on track and ensure that you’re in the best possible position to avoid financial challenges this holiday season. If you need a little extra financial help, a Koster’s Cash Loan can make the holidays easier to manage. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help alleviate some of the financial strain.

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