Keeping Your Finances Healthy This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again – holiday shopping, online sales, and that ever-growing list of gift-giving and family parties are on the horizon. Aside from your main gift list, you may find yourself easily swept away, giving $20 here and $20 there, and before you know it you’ve spent at least another $300 in addition to what you anticipated. Trust me, we’ve all been there!

That’s why it’s important to take the time now before the frenzy begins to center back to your credit goals. Evaluate your finances, understand your debt, and keep your eye on the prize by setting a reasonable budget for your holiday shopping. By pre-planning your purchases, you can avoid walking (or clicking!) into stores blindly. Being proactive is the key to a debt-free holiday season because the truth is no one who loves you wants to receive a gift you can’t afford!

Below is your go-to guide to pre-planning your list!

  • Set a budget. It seems obvious, but it’s probably the most missed step. Take time before the holiday bustle to write out every person you’re buying for and the item(s) you wish to buy. Research to see how much the items cost (before discounts) and get a rough estimate of what your gifts will come to. Reassess your list and items until you’re in a comfortable price range that won’t have you maxing out credit cards to achieve. From here, you can then search for the best deals and purchase your items at a lower price than you planned for (because hey, no one ever complained about a little extra cash leftover during the holiday season!). 
  • DIY gifts to have on hand. So you have your spending list and your budget all laid out, but then a surprise co-worker or neighbor comes by to give you a gift. Your heart starts racing and you feel your face turn red as you realize you didn’t get them anything. In a moment of mixed panic and guilt, you might feel compelled to run out to the store and buy them a little something in return. Yet, when this repeatedly happens a handful of times, your budget can quickly derail. The best way to prepare for these situations is to have some cute and low-ticket DIY gifts on hand (check out these ideas). With a variety of practical gifts that don’t break the bank on deck, you’re sure to continue spreading the cheer without any added stress!
  • Jingle into the next year. Once the holiday season comes to completion after a blur of lights, cookies, and wrapping paper, it’s tempting to forget all about it until crunch time comes the next year. Waiting until the last minute can amplify financial strain and leave you more apt to overcharge credit cards and accrue debt. Get into the habit of setting aside a small amount of money each week immediately following the holiday to prepare for the next year. That gives you 52 weeks of small savings that can add up BIG and help you out immensely when the time comes again. Just think, even $5 a week would be about $260…that would help put a little relief in your back pocket!
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