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We’re quickly approaching the holiday season, and while it can be an enjoyable break from normal life, holiday shopping and travel can also be a serious stressor if approached the wrong way. Money troubles are one of the biggest challenges that most people face during the holidays, and while the holiday season is the last time you want to worry about finances, the expenses can quickly start adding up.
Want to know the best ways to budget for the holidays so you can enjoy the best time of year without all the stress? Read on ahead!
The key to success in any budget, during the holiday season or otherwise, is good planning. That’s the whole reason for having a budget in the first place, right? You budget because you want to take your holiday finances into your own hands instead of just going with the flow. Take time early on to sit down and plan out all your budget items.
Make budget categories for gifts, travel, and other expected expenses. Doing so is especially helpful when it comes to holiday travel, as things like plane tickets and hotel stays are often cheaper when booked in advance. If you have your plan determined far in advance, it will be easier to make a change if something else comes up.
Keep an eye out for discounts and sales
The holiday season can be expensive, but at least it’s expected. Unlike car issues or medical problems, which can strike and hurt your finances at any moment, the holiday season happens at the same time each year. By planning in advance and knowing who you’ll be buying gifts for and how much you’d like to spend, you can have months longer to find the perfect gifts at prices that will fit within your budget. Sales and discounts can help you stick to your budget as well.
Keep an eye out for sales, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday steals. You might find some bargains as early as Labor Day too! These sales will help you save money and avoid the stress of having to buy presents last-minute from shelves that are emptying quickly since everyone else is doing the same.
Use a budgeting app
Setting a budget is a great first step, but it won’t help you if you don’t track your purchases to make sure you’re staying within that budget. This is where using a budgeting app can come in handy. These apps record your purchases and put them in categories so you can easily see how much you’re actually spending and make sure you’re staying on track. Set categories for each of your common holiday budget items such as gifts, travel, entertainment, and food.
Start with the big things
If you’ve put your budget together and it all adds up to more than you were hoping to spend, there’s always more you can do to save. Focus on the biggest items in your budget that you can save money on, instead of worrying about saving money on every little thing. See if you can fly a day later or earlier than planned to find a time with cheaper tickets. Try to save money on food when you’re traveling, and buy groceries to make your own food in the hotel room instead of eating out for every meal.
With the right planning and an eye for good deals, you can easily rid yourself of some of the usual stress of the holiday season to ensure that you end the year on a great note. Happy holidays!