Even though you have the best and most responsible intentions, it is entirely possible that you could blow your holiday budget this year. That is, unless your budget is of the unbreakable variety. If you desire to stay economic on the straight and narrow from now until the New Year, follow along and use these five simple tips.
1) You are only as good as your tools. The best huntsman, Olympian and bargain shoppers all have one thing in common; they have the right set of tools at their disposal. For savers, draft your budget around the money you allocated for holiday savings, and no more. For everyone else, draft a holiday budget you can afford.
If your holiday spending includes using plastic, pay off those cards before the next billing cycle to avoid a debt hangover in January.
Regardless, both spenders and savers need to draft a holiday budget in writing. Create a list of everything you want to buy, check it twice, put a price on each item and make sure that you can afford everything before walking out your front door. There are multitudes of tools available to you from Excel spreadsheet templates to free online budgeting tools like Mint.com.
2) Cash is king. The best way to keep your holiday spending promises is to ditch the plastic and use cash. As you go from store to store, you have less and less money. When the cash is gone, so are you.
3) Write it down. After each shopping trip to the store or each online purchase, write down exactly what you spent, and subtract that amount from your holiday budget. This is particularly easy if you use mobile budgeting tools, check registers or banking apps that synch up with your smart phone. It might take an extra step and five extra minutes to do this, but it will help keep you honest about your spending this holiday.
4) Needs versus wants. Just because you want to buy something for everyone on your list, does not mean you need to. Take care of your nearest and dearest first, and if you do have money left over, allocate it to gifts you can buy in bulk that spread easily, like baked goods or ornaments.
5) Maximize your shopping dollar. Let’s face it, in any economy he who shops the smartest, wins. Comparison shop online to get the best prices and deals on everything you plan to buy, no matter how you buy it. Use online rebate portals that pay you cash back to shop at your favorite merchants when you let your fingers do the walking. Use cash back rewards credit or debit cards to get the most out of your holiday spending. Reap every possible reward of smarter shopping, and you will be sitting pretty.
Your unbreakable holiday budget is only as good as your willpower. Master that, and you are a shopping specialist who will enjoy her unbreakable, headache-free holiday, sans buyer’s remorse.