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How to Budget For Holiday Shopping – Yes, You Should Start Now

When we think of holiday spending a lot of us picture ourselves huddled around a kitchen table with our family, combing through the ads for Black Friday. You don’t have to limit yourself to the craziness of Black Friday if you want to save a few bucks this holiday season.
How many of you think about summer savings? What time frame do you give yourself for holiday shopping? If you really want to save money on the holidays, don’t limit yourself to shopping a month in advance. Instead, start saving now.

#1) Come Up With A Budget

Let’s say that you find yourself in a bit of a predicament this year. The worst case scenario could be one of two things: unexpected medical bills or losing a major source of income. If that happens, would you have enough money to give your family a “decent” holiday?

Setting up a budget for holiday spending is one of the best options for this type of problem. There are two ways that you can go about this:

  • Make a list of the presents that you want to buy and estimate the cost for each. Then shop for those items throughout the year, utilizing the seasonal sales. EXTRA TIP: look for timeless and quirky items that fit their personalities.
  • Create a budget that you want to spend for presents this year and split that between all of the members of your family and friends. Make a note for the people that you’ll be spending a little extra money on. Don’t forget that you can make homemade presents for a number of your friends and acquaintances as well.

#2) Presents Aren’t Everything

These days the “holiday spirit” has to do with giving and receiving. Yes, it is also about showing our love for one another (no matter what holiday you celebrate). However, the holidays are becoming more about presents and less about affection and sentiment.

Presents aside, if you were to lose your job before the holidays, would you have enough money to outfit your home and have a nice family dinner? There is something special about gathering family at your house and decorating your home in special colors, scents, and treats. It helps propagate the holiday spirit, after all.

If you and your family had to deal with a loss of income, would you be able to lift up your family’s morale with a comforting holiday season? While you’re coming up with your holiday budget, make sure that you set aside some funds for these costs as well: holiday dinner, décor (indoor/outdoor), inviting guests over, or traveling.

#3) Shop Throughout the Year

There are great sales throughout the year. Create a list of presents for everyone and as the year goes on, do a little shopping here and there. The elves in Santa’s workshop work all year round so there’s no reason why you can’t shop all year round too. Just make sure that you find an extra special hiding spot this year.

I also suggest putting yourself on your shopping list. It may sound a little selfish but consider what normally happens. You buy a handful of presents for your closest friends and family members, but you also come out of the store with a handful of things for yourself. Putting your name on the shopping list allows you to splurge but also puts a cap on what you can buy. Budget to buy one item for yourself or spend only a certain amount on yourself.

#4) Cash-Only Holidays

Cash-only holidays are great because it gives you a strict budget to follow and you can visually see the money leave your hands, which means that you’re less likely to overspend. Set a limit or an allotment, withdraw that money, and budget it well.

#5) Secret Santa or White Elephant

If you have groups of friends or family members that are around the same age, I suggest having a Secret Santa (where you draw names out of a hat and secretly buy a present for that person only) or a White Elephant Party.

White Elephant Parties have the same basic rules. There is always a reasonable dollar limit put on presents – anywhere from $5 to $50. Buy a generic present that anyone in the group may like; wrap it up nice and tight; and draw numbers for presents at the party.

Shopping for the holidays doesn’t have to be difficult nor does it have to “break the bank”. With some planning and budgeting, you can come out of the holidays with more money than you normally do.

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