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Holiday Budgets

By Independent Bank September 19 2019 Savings Tips, Investing

Fall Into Budgeting: 4 Tips That Will Help You Avoid Overspending During the Holidays

Smiling family decorating a Christmas tree with boubles in the living-room

The holidays often have a negative effect on people’s budgets. Many end up starting the new year in debt because of travel, gifts, impulse purchases, and more. Just to give some insight, according to Statista, “The United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013.” 

Although the holidays seem far away as fall kicks off, in reality, they are right around the corner. This year, instead of letting holiday budgets get out of control, start planning now and create a budget that helps keep you out of debt.

It’s never too early to work on your holiday budget

People with money in savings have a secret – they make a budget and stick to it. They also plan for everything! It’s normal for savers to spend less year-round. That means instead of putting holiday budgets together during the holidays, they work to spread some of those costs throughout the year. They also make cuts and find ways to reduce how much they spend.

If you didn’t start your holiday budget in January, you can certainly start right now with a new fall budget that includes your holiday spending.

Start by looking at what your expenses you will have this year. In other words, what you will need money for:

  • Travel
  • Gifts
  • Meals
  • Parties
  • Decorations

Be realistic. Make a sheet that covers how much each item will cost, or how much you want to spend. Having an estimated total will help you fine-tune later in the process. Get specific; who needs gifts, how many parties will you host, how much food will you need, what decorations need replacing, etc.

Cut costs and redirect money – or find other ways to cover holiday costs

Did you know there’s a window that’s optimal for buying plane tickets and booking travel accommodations? There are also limits on when you can use your miles and when you can book mileage trips. There are places you can save on travel as well, for example, by using online booking services or purchasing a flight with 1 or 2 stops.

How about luxury spending? Can you cut your Pumpkin Spice lattes and put that money in savings to use for gifts? How about cutting your cable and changing to a streaming service, and using the leftover money to cover your Thanksgiving meal?

Another thought is going through your home this fall and selling unneeded items, which also makes room for new gifts for the family. 

Other cost-cutting tips include:

  • Make or limit gifts
  • Take on a second, seasonal job
  • Find online work to boost your income
  • Cancel subscriptions and services you’re not using
  • Carpool to save on gas
  • Find loans and cards with lower rates
  • Don’t get caught up in holiday consumerism, focus on family experiences instead
  • Use discount codes and coupons
  • Always shop for holiday items with a list and/or cash
  • Unsubscribe from emails, newsletters, or catalogs – anything that tempts more buying
  • Find free holiday activities
  • Work together with others to stay accountable for your spending habits

The holidays bring joy, but they often bring stress too, especially around money and debt. It’s understandable to want to be generous and create lasting memories, but you don’t have to break the bank to do it. This fall, plan ahead to make your holidays debt-free and joyful!

 

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