It seems as if the morning of November 1st marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Retailers began putting up holiday displays and advertisements began rolling out soon after. Every holiday season, my wallet is magically full of money and I play Santa to almost all my friends and family. Everything is grand…until January 1st. Reality checks in and the money I incessantly beging to tell myself that the money I splurged needs to reappear so that I can ring in the New Year debt and stress-free. This holiday season, I want to help you (as I help myself) stay off financial crutches. These three steps will keep you from wringing your wallet dry during this holiday season.
To establish your budget, you must first determine your revenue and your expenses. Your revenue will include all monies that you accrue within a month. Your expenses will include all fixed payments that you make each month, such as rent, utilities, groceries, a cell phone bill, and gasoline for your car. If you have a remaining balance after subtracting your expenses from your revenue, use 60% for holiday shopping, 20% for savings, and 20% for miscellaneous items that are not purchased frequently, such as cleaning supplies, hair and beauty products, and fast food.
Step 2: Make a list
Take a cue from Santa and make a list of people you want to purchase gifts for. Check the list twice to ensure you have included all your V.I.P., like family and close friends. Buy a box of holiday cards to give to people who did not make it on your original list. A handwritten card is a better gift than the credit card bill you will receive in the New Year!
Step 3: Be Committed
Today, I, ____________, make the commitment to follow my holiday budget; failure to do so will result in a New Year filled with debt and stress. Now that we have that in writing, you must follow your budget! If your budget is tight, get creative. For a group in the same household, give the gift of a Living Social or Groupon deal; these sites feature great escapes and family fun activities at discounted prices. Shop around for the best prices online and in-store. Getting crafty never fails.
Pro tip: Looking for gifts for a female friend? Use comparison tool sites like That Sweet Gift in order to rank items within your budget before you purchase them!