Have you ever experienced buyer’s regret in January, once the credit card bills start rolling in reflecting your holiday spending? I know that I have.. there’s just something about the season that prompts many of us to overspend. Whether it’s decorations, special foods, gifts for every person that we know, holiday parties, new outfits, or any of a myriad of other things, December is one time when we may forget about our budget temporarily. Unfortunately, this takes its toll and can get the new year started off on the wrong foot.
Take a stand this year and make a pre-new-year’s resolution to not blow your budget. Here are some tips:
- Know what you’re up against. Go through your holiday items from last year so that you don’t buy duplicate items. If you already have enough lights for the tree, then don’t buy more! You may have a stockpile of wrapping paper, gifts set aside for various family members or seasonal candles that still have a lot of scent left. Take an afternoon to check up on what you’ve got, then make a list of what you still need.
- Next, make a list of gift ideas. Decide who you need to buy for and list their names, along with several ideas for each person. When you wander around in a store aimlessly, you’re more likely to spend too much on items that your recipients don’t really want or need, causing you to spend even more money the next time you go out. Having a plan in place can help thwart overspending.
- Don’t leave home without your list. If your ideas are sitting on the kitchen counter and you’re at the mall, it doesn’t do you any good. Put it in your purse and take it with you every time you go out.
- Make a budget and track expenses. Since holiday shopping can really add up, you need to start with a set amount of money in mind. Sit down with your spouse or partner, if applicable, and iron out exactly what you expect to spend. Write down every holiday-related penny spent. This will help you to see if you’re spending too much in general or on one particular category of items.
- Talk to you extended family members if things are tight. Even if you’ve always purchased gifts for every aunt, uncle and cousin, with the economy being what it is, it might simply have become a tradition that no one really knows how to get out of. A sit-down early in the season might put everyone’s mind at ease. Perhaps you could suggest a shared meal together or some other experience in lieu of gifts.
Remember that whatever you spend now will catch up to you in January, and that most of the time, overspending isn’t worth the stress. You can have a beautiful and meaningful holiday without breaking the bank or blowing your budget, and it will be just as memorable for you, your kids, and your extended family!