Nothing can destroy a carefully maintained household budget like the holiday season, but coming out of the holidays with a crippling credit card bill is not inevitable. A few precautions can help ensure that holidays are not spoiled by overspending.
First, have a budget and stick to it. This is often easier said than done, so it can be helpful to have some strategies. For example, don’t over-rely on sales, including Cyber Monday and Black Friday. There may be coupons or daily deals that are just as good. Check prices on your phone and remember that not everyone needs the absolute latest electronics. Waiting until the last minute to do holiday shopping is a surefire way to destroy the budget. People should also be careful about shipping costs, which can significantly drive up the cost even when it has a lower price online.
Planning ahead will make it easier to stick to the budget. A list of everyone to buy for with dollar amounts next to each person’s name can help guide gift choices. One common mistake that people make during the holidays is buying too many things for too many people. If the holiday list is burgeoning with people outside of the immediate family, they should instead consider giving homemade gifts or gifts of time. These could be written on cards and given to people, so they still have something to open. Many people will appreciate an offer to babysit or cook a meal.
It is possible to still buy big-ticket items for one or more people with enough planning. Instead of putting an expensive present on a credit card, people should save up for it throughout the year. In fact, store away cash for the holidays by having a certain amount of money automatically deducted from the checking account and placed in the savings account every week or two. However, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to give a thoughtful gift. Identifying exactly what someone needs the most and buying that for them can mean more than an expensive present.