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Tips to Help You Prepare for Holiday Spending

Can you believe the holiday season is only a few months away? From buying festive decorations and preparing delicious meals, to finding amazing deals on gifts for others, most people look forward to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. However, with the current pandemic situation, preparing for the holiday season will look a little different this year. Retail stores are projected to have limited inventory and some stores have already decided to close on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. These are a few of the many changes you’ll likely notice this holiday season.

Although this may be the new reality for 2020, we can still have a joyful and festive holiday season with the right planning and without having to break the bank. The last thing you need this holiday season is the stress of spending more money than you were planning. So to keep the financial stress way this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you start your shopping.

1. Create a budget.

Have you thought about how much you plan to spend on holiday shopping this year? Have no clue? Now is the time to start preparing your budget. Take the time to do a few calculations and create a budget based on your monthly expenses. With a budget in place, you can plan your holiday spending, and you’re less likely to spend more on impulse or unexpected purchases. Once you’ve created your budget, set a limit on what you can afford to spend, and stick to it. Need help starting a budget? Check out our Financial Resources page for helpful tools and worksheets.

2. Cut your expenses.

Spending a dollar here and there might not seem like a big deal, but it can take a toll on your budget over time. Once you’ve established a budget, evaluate your expenses and look for ways to cut back on those purchases that really aren’t necessary. The more you cut back, the more you will have for holiday spending. Look for ways to cut your expenses. Consider using coupons, buy generic brand items, buy items on sale, or DIY certain tasks that you would usually pay someone to do for you.

3. Stick to your list.

Make a list and check it twice. List all your holiday-related expenses – gifts, decorations, travel, food, etc. Don’t forget about the small items like wrapping paper, bows, and all those little add-on gifts. These costs may seem small, but they quickly add up, giving you less money to spend on those big-ticket items. Impulse purchases and last-minute add-ons, will put a dent in your budget. Once you’ve finalized your list, don’t deviate from it.

4. Start shopping early.

Start looking out for major discounts and sales. Many people have shifted to online shopping out of safety precautions due to the pandemic and retailers have noticed. Many retailers will offer great online deals and special discounts earlier this year, even before Black Friday. They want to entice shoppers to shop online instead of visiting stores to better control and limit the large crowds these sales usually draw.

Also, consider online coupon websites and price drop tools such as RetailMeNot, Groupon, and Honey to find fantastic deals and discount offers to help save money.

5. Stock up on items for next year.

Last minute shopping is likely to lead to overspending so why not start a year earlier. Shopping at the end of the holiday season with deeply discounted prices is another way to save. You can purchase decorations like artificial trees and other holiday staples. Also, in the spring and summer, you can buy winter coats, scarves, and boots in the spring and summer at a fraction of cost. 

6. Start saving for next year.

When the holiday season is over, review your budget to determine how much you really spent on holiday shopping and use this amount as a starting point to save for next year. You can get started by opening a savings account or a Christmas Club account and have a certain amount automatically deposited into the account. Your funds will grow over time and make budgeting for the holidays easier and will remove some of the stress that comes with this time of year.

Yes, times are different now, and we may have to adjust how we usually celebrate this season. However, you can still have a memorable, joyful, and a less stressful holiday season with careful planning and a budget. Creating a budget now and sticking to it will be worth it as we approach the holidays.

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