The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. From decorating your home and scoring that elusive toy atop your kids’ list, to baking cookies and partying until the ball drops, there is nothing quite like it. But all those festivities add up—literally. Now that Labor Day has passed, the holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s a great time to look at your holiday budget.
Here are our favorite holiday budgeting tips to help you avoid any surprises this season.
Set an overall budget
Take a look at your normal monthly budget and determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts for the holidays this year. Maybe you’ve been saving all year, or maybe it’s a bit of a squeeze. Whatever your situation, figure out how much you plan to spend and then stick to it.
Set a budget per person
Chances are, you’ll probably spend more on gifts for your significant other and kids than you will on coworkers and friends. Break down your overall holiday budget and allocate an amount per person. It’s OK to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room just in case you find a stocking stuffer you know someone will love. Just don’t go overboard!
Avoid impulse buys
As the holiday season approaches, more and more retailers offer discounts and coupons you don’t always see throughout the year. These deals are great, as long as what they’re selling is something that is on your list. But try to avoid buying stuff just because there’s a discount. All those purchases add up!
It literally pays to shop around. Unless an item is exclusive to a particular retailer, like an iPad, there’s a good chance you can find it at several different stores. Take a look at different sites to see who has the item on sale, who’s offering a discount, who has it in stock and who can ship it (even better if it’s free shipping!).
Consider non-gift expenses
Budgeting for gift-giving is obvious, but what about other incidental purchases, like replacement lights for the Christmas tree or baking supplies? It’s important to factor these into your budget, too.
Plan for the new year
Reviewing your bills after the holidays can be a bit of a gut-punch. You may find yourself a little strapped for cash in the new year, but planning now will help ease the blow later. Plan to take it easy in the new year by eating in, planning at-home date nights and other inexpensive but enjoyable activities. Your presence is the present!
For other holiday shopping tips, check out these blog posts: Best Tips for Getting a Jump Start on Holiday Shopping and Black Friday Shopping Tips: Is it Worth the Hype. And, if you’re looking for a one stop gift shop, know that your local WaterStone Bank branch is a great resource – from Visa gift cards to foreign currency, or membership for your littles in our Blue’s Jr. Bankers Kids Club.
Ultimately, when it comes to budgeting and holiday gift-giving, it really is the thought that counts. Budgeting is the smart choice and will make your holiday season that much more festive.
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