Put an Inexpensive Bow on the Holidays

It's time to put a bright bow on your budget!

Are you ready for the upcoming holidays? Although November 27th is the traditional kick off of the holiday season, decorations of all kinds are already flooding the retail stores and advertisers are working hard to put us in the “spending mood” earlier and earlier every year. This creates an opportunity to make a spending plan that will get us through the season and help keep it meaningful.

At American Financial Solutions, we have created a special “Holiday Budget” Worksheet to keep our Holiday spending in check and to ensure we have a wonderful holiday that we don’t regret after the New Year. This budget is not only for the “big” holidays, but also for the smaller holidays we celebrate. We tried to include several categories that cover things we may not think about like postage and decorations. There is also plenty of room to add personal categories as well.

The budget is set up with a column for our estimated spending and a column to track how much we actually spent. One goal may be to under-spend on what was budgeted for a category. It is always a great feeling to save money!

In addition to the Holiday Budget, below are some additional tips to help with holiday budget planning.

  • Set a limit. Determine how much money can be budgeted for holiday shopping. This is key to avoiding debt and ensuring there is money available for normal monthly expenses.
  • Plan shopping trips. If you are going out, know where you are going and what you intend to buy when you get there. This will save you time, avoid traffic, conserve fuel, and leave more time for the things you would rather be doing during the holidays.
  • Decorate with style. Look around your yard or the local park for branches, leaves, etc. that can be used to create a holiday atmosphere. Also, some ribbon and a string of lights can go a long way in making an area feel festive.
  • Do your research! If you know you want to buy a particular product, check the internet to find out if a retailer has it on sale. Find out when the stores are having their largest sales. Focus on FREE shipping opportunities, too. A great sale may be worthless if the shipping is expensive.
  • Put it in your cart (online). As the holiday season progresses, retailers often turn to bonuses like free shipping or reducing the cost of items. This can save a lot of money. Be aware that a sought-after item may increase in price due to demand.
  • If you are hosting a holiday feast, turn it into a potluck! That way everyone can enjoy each person’s favorite dishes.
  • Focus more on spending time with family and friends. People usually remember time spent with family over what gift they received. Homemade goodies like cookies and fudge or family favorites are always a good idea. They can also be delivered early and enjoyed throughout the holiday season.
  • Homemade gifts can also help save money and hold a lot of sentiment. Perhaps a drawn picture in a frame (inexpensive from a dollar store or the like) or a list of your favorite memories with the person, also served up in a frame. 
  • The gift of time and talent. Offering to assist a friend or family member with a project can also be a wonderful gift.

A few more general ideas for saving:

  • Start early so the cost is spread out over a broader period.
  • Check out thrift or secondhand stores.
  • Avoid using a credit card. Try to buy using cash/debit card.

And finally, use our holiday budget worksheet to set up a holiday spending plan to help get through the holidays financially intact. For more help with budgeting, debt repayment or credit visit our website or call us at 1-888-282-5811.