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Planning

How to Budget This Holiday

It’s easy to prevent overspending when you have a plan!

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Photograph: Brooke Lark

The Christmas season is a splendid time of year, but it can also be financially overwhelming. From buying gifts for everyone, to making sure your home looks festive and welcoming, you may get a knot in your stomach every time you plunk down that credit card or hit the ATM. Getting ahead of the season with a little planning and holiday budgeting is a smart way to get through the holidays in an organized fashion, while reducing your worries about overspending. Additionally, getting ahead of things and keeping track of your purchases can also help avoid expensive last-minute panic shopping.

We at Santa.com are here to help! Consider these step-by-step tips to help keep you from overspending this holiday season:

Just like Santa, Keep a List

Whether you use an excel file or an old-fashioned pen and paper, figure out how much money you would ideally like to spend this season and stick to your goal. To minimize overspending, think of everyone you intend to shop for, starting with family and friends, before adding the other special people in your life like hairdressers, housekeepers, teachers and fitness instructors. Next, take into account the other expenses you might ordinarily overlook in your budget that absolutely qualify as holiday expenses. From home décor to travel to holiday outfits and gifts for your hosts, the goal here is to consider as much as possible to keep surprise expenses to a minimum. Also, don’t forget to budget for your holiday greeting cards, as well as any charitable giving you’re planning.

Keep Track

Next, think of how much money to allot for each gift or expense. Every time you make a purchase, be sure to update your plan. Did you go over a little on one item?  If so, see  if you can remove something or spend less on another. It can be  very tempting to overspend on those glamorous new heels for the holiday party, but keep yourself in check and you will be thankful when the credit card bill arrives in January!

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

That is when you panic buy and your budget goes out the window. We are fans of buying all year, so you don’t have to spend it all at once. If you see something your sister will love when on vacation in June, go ahead and buy it! Also, it’s best to keep an eye out for deals and see if Black Friday/Cyber Monday has what you need. Don’t forget to comparison shop online to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible.

DIY to the Rescue

Homemade gifts can go a very long way when budgeting, and people love them. Homemade cookies and baked goods in festive wrap will always be appreciated. Hand-knitted oven mitts are a cozy reminder of you all year long. How about some custom-made salt and pepper jars with a simple note? All of the above are affordable and are much appreciated gifts, with a nice personal touch!

Try the Buddy System

It could be fun to share your budgeting with a best friend or family member so you can hold each other accountable for staying on budget. Maybe, whoever does the best job gets treated to lunch in January! Regardless, it can be a great way to be mindful of spending while making it fun.