7 Tips For Staying On Budget This Holiday Season

Do you overspend during the holidays? Try these tips to help you stay within this year’s budget.

piggy-santaStart anew
Holiday spending isn’t a competition. Forget what you gave and how much you spent (and received) last year. Create and stick to a budget based on what you can afford this year.

Set a limit
According to the National Retail Federation, the average American family plans to spend about $750 on holiday shopping. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend this much. The question is, “How much can you and your family afford?” Look at your regular monthly expenses, other financial obligations, and the money you’ve budgeted for the holidays. Write down this amount and don’t go over it whether you’re paying with cash, check, debit or a credit card.

Divide and conquer
Once you’ve set your budget, divide it up. Earmark specific amounts of money for individual gifts and other holiday purchases such as greeting cards, decorations and party expenses.

Shop and Save with Discounts
There is a plethora of Online Outlets where you can find promotional codes for online shopping and printable coupongs for in-store shopping, check out retailmenot and couponcabin. Sites like eBates actually offer you a percentage back on every purchase you make at an online retailer in their database, and their database is HUGE. Just go to ebates.com to create an account, search for your retailer of choice, and click through from ebates.com where you’ll be delivered straight to the website. You’ll start earning cash back in your eBates.com account before you know it. Just like the commerical, it really is like getting paid to shop. And don’t overlook sites like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local and others that offer extensive discounts on products and services offered on their website. You purchase a voucher for the product or service and use that voucher for the discount. When shopping for products over services your recipient will never know, just make sure if you want the gift to be returnable, that option is available.

Credit Cards
If you plan to use a credit card for holiday shopping, consider the benefits of having a card with cash-back rewards. And a tip to potential homeowners, if you are able to do all of your Christmas shopping in cash, consider using your credit card and paying down the balance to $0 immediately. It improves your credit score which will come in handy when applying for a mortgage.

Split it
Look for multiple-purchase discounts, then shop with a friend and split the savings. Take advantage of “two-for-one” specials or “buy two, get the second for half-price” deals.

Keep score
Keep track of the money you budget and spend for individual purchases. Note how much you go over or stay under your budget. To help you, create a scorecard with these four headings: Name, Gift/Planned $, Money Spent, Difference +/-. You’re less likely to blow your budget when you hold yourself accountable and write down every purchase.

Patrick Parker Realty wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season… and smart shopping!