Overspending during the holiday season can seem almost unavoidable but there are some things that can be done to help keep your budget in check. I've been there – as most people have – and overspending can happen so easily! So, with Christmas and the holidays fast approaching these are my top tips for preventing holiday overspending!
1. Avoid Shopping at the last minute
Most of us have done this before and it's important to note that leaving shopping to the last minute increases the likelihood that you'll spend more. You'll be more likely to make a rush decision during all the hustle and bustle of it all and will be less likely to have had an opportunity to comparison shop. Many store also jack up the price of some of their items during the holiday season since this is a great opportunity to make more money. By shopping in advance you can take advantage of sales, comparison shop and find deals.
2. Pay in Cash
Paying in cash is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from overspending during the holidays. It's too easy to just pull out a piece of plastic and charge it to the account – spending can quickly get out of hand this way if you're not careful. When you pay for items in cash you are able to see the actual physical money that you're working with and are more likely to stay within the budget you've set.
3. Create a plan
Try to come up with a simple plan for the the holidays in terms of gift giving and entertaining. Are you hosting Christmas dinner this year?If so, would you consider making it a pot luck? In terms of gift giving would the family be open to drawing names and each person getting one gift? This could ease the financial burden on quite a few people since they wouldn't have to worry about buying multiple gifts.
4. Make a realistic budget and stick to it
It would be a good idea to create a list of people you plan on giving gifts to and how much you intend to spend on each gift. Make sure you keep this list wit you when you go shopping so you can keep track. I also make a habit of budgeting the costs of any holiday entertaining and any decorations that will be needed. Once you create the budget try to stick with it the best you can.
5. Shop on week days
If you're able to shopping on the week days can make for a much less stressful experience when hunting for gifts. I remember one year going to one of the major malls here in Toronto on a Saturday and let me tell you that was a mistake I won't be making again. Some of the stores were packed like a jar of pickles. There was no way to get shopping done without being rushed this way or that. By shopping on a week day there should be much less of a crowd and it will be easier to get everything done without being rushed. You'll be less likely to make a budget breaking decision.
6. Search for online deals and coupon codes
When you're planning gifts try searching online stores like Amazon or Ebay. You can get brand new products in online stores like this and usually for much less than what you would pay in a physical store. Also try doing a search online for coupon codes for any particular stores you might be interested in shopping. Just google the name of the store and include the search term “coupon code” and you might just be able to find a deal!
7. Consider giving homemade gifts
Homemade gifts can be a great way to show someone that you care about them. There are many options to choose from and you can look for inspiration on Pinterest for projects that are relatively cost effective and awesome at the same time. Please take a look at my homemade gift planning post for ideas on how to create the perfect gift!
I hope that these tips will help you when you're planning your holidays!