Those aren’t jingle bells you’re hearing. That’s the sound of the cash register ca-chinging away all your hard-earned money.
While it might be the most wonderful time of the year for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it’s also the worst time of the year for your budget. You’ve got gifts to buy for everyone from your frenemy to your significant other. It’s difficult to pinch pennies and pick out the perfect present at the same time!
TD Bank’s Love and Money Survey, published earlier this year, revealed (unsurprisingly) that the holidays are when people spend the most on others, with people spending an average of $148 on their significant other, $244 on children and $112 on family and friends.
All that spending might break your budget, though. The survey also found that while 25 percent of people have saved enough for gifts, another 25 percent say they will “worry about it later” and use a credit card.
“Worry about it later” is a great approach for the mounting laundry in your room, but your finances? Not so much. Even worse, the survey found that only one-third of Americans who create holiday budgets end up sticking to them.
You don’t need a Christmas miracle, though, to create an effective (and realistic!) holiday budget.
Here are some quick tips to help keep your holiday budgeting in check:
Make a list
Make a list, and check it twice. Write down everyone you intend to buy a gift for, and how much you can realistically afford to spend on them. Be sure to factor in costs like gift wrapping and shipping.
Create a separate account
Once you’ve determined how much you can spend on everyone, put the total amount in a separate bank account and don’t touch it until you start shopping.
If you want to rack up the rewards on your credit card and use that for your holiday shopping, simply use the money in your “holiday account” to pay off your credit card.
That way, you’ll get rewarded for using your credit card, but are re-assured that you have the money to pay it off. Just be sure to stick to your list and the pre-determined, allocated amounts for the people on your list.
Hunt for deals
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, chances are, you probably already scooped a good deal on at least one or two things on your list. Still, deals will continue to roll out up until Christmas!
Amazon’s Black Friday specials will be offered until Dec. 22, and a popular promotion typically offered throughout the month of December is discounted gift cards, or gift cards offered at a lower price than their redeemable value, according to DealNews.
Track your expenses
You can only manage your money if you know exactly where that money is going, so it’s super important track what you spend when holiday shopping. Enlist the help of an app that tracks your expenses and categorizes them for you.
Mint is a popular budgeting app, along with Level Money.