A holiday budget is important if you want to manage your spending this season. Like any money management tip, a budget plan will help you take full control of your finances. This is especially true if you know that your funds will not be enough to finance what you plan on buying.
When you have so little to work with, you sometimes have to take drastic steps in order to make ends meet. We all know where financial desperation leads us – to debt.
It is true that a lot of people will not think twice about putting themselves in debt as long as it will help them enjoy the season. But this way of thinking is not right. We need to stop thinking about debt as a solution when our finances are not enough for our needs.
Looking at the forecast of the experts when it comes to this coming holidays, it is obvious that you will be needing a bigger amount than you spent in the previous year. Reuters.com reported that the holiday sales are expected to rise by 2.8% this year. This data was taken from RetailNext, an analytics firm tracking major US retailers. While this may be a small increase, it is expected that the average spending will rise. That means people will be spending more. This probably means there will be people who will not spend anything at all. The question is, which one will you be? Will you spend more or will you spend less this season?
Of course, this data is just a forecast. It is up to you if you will do as the statistics say or you will pave your own way. One thing is for sure, you have to think twice before you let your holiday spending lead you to debt. Although it might lead you to enjoy the season further, it will not make the feeling last. You will regret it after the holidays.
If you think that your holiday budget will fall short this season, there are two things that you can do to will keep you from incurring debt this season.
Earn more to add to your holiday fund
The first that you need to do is to earn more. This is easier said than done but if you are determined to stay away from debt, then you will find the strength to make it work.
Here are three things that you can do.
Get a side gig.
According to the National Retail Federation, a lot of retailers are expected to hire a lot of manpower to help with the busy season. The data published on NRF.com revealed that 700,000 to 750,000 seasonal employees will be hired for the season. This is just like the 714,000 holiday jobs that were created in 2014. If you have some time to spare, you may want to have yourself hired by these retailers. Of course, this is not your only option. There are other ways that you can boost your income through a second job. You can go online to search for a second career. If you can write well, you can be a freelance writer. Some writers earn $10-$25 an hour. You can even capitalize on your hobby or a talent that you have. If you know how to bake, you can whip a batch of cookies to sell as edible Christmas gifts. Think about all these options when you are looking for ways to increase your fund. A side gig or a second job will really help boost your income so you have a bigger holiday budget to spend.
Work longer hours
If your employer will allow it, you may want to request longer hours. That way, you do not have to apply to another job. If there is a need for manpower somewhere or a project requires someone to handle it, why not volunteer for the job? We’ve mentioned that retailers will be looking for seasonal workers. If you know that you are physically able to take on longer hours, you can talk to your manager or supervisor. Instead of hiring and training a seasonal employee, you can volunteer and work longer hours. As long as you will be compensated for it accordingly, this will really help boost your funds.
Sell some of your stuff.
Being a minimalist will help you be debt free. If you have a lot of items in your closet, attic or garage, you may want to go through them and sell everything that you are not using anymore. You can get instant cash by doing this. Not only that, this task is a great way to declutter your house and organize your belongings. By going through the items that you have at home, you may be able to find items that you can give away as gifts – as long as you make sure that you will not give it to the original giver. That can be quite embarrassing. This decluttering will even allow you to make room for the gifts that you will be receiving this season.
The great thing about choosing to earn more is the possibility of increasing your holiday budget is limitless. For instance, if you choose a side gig to help you increase your holiday fund, you can work as long as it takes for you to reach your goal. At least, as long as you are able to work that is.
Lower your expected holiday expenses
The other option for you to increase your holiday budget is to lower your expected spending. You go through this each year. You should have an idea about the expenses that you will be making. Think about what you spent on last year and make a list of the things that you can and cannot live without. This will help you organize your holiday spending plan so you can avoid incurring debt this season.
According to a press release published on PRNewswire.com, the 2014 holiday season led some consumers into debt. The report from the National Consumer Credit Trends released by Equifax revealed that the credit card debt in December 2014 increased to $642 billion in December 2014. This is considered to be the highest level of debt for credit cards since April 2010. The report revealed that this statistics still show that consumers are showing restraint in their use of credit cards because the credit utilization remains to be low. But despite that, the fact remains that a lot of consumers still ended up in debt just because they spent a lot more than they are able during the holiday season.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can lower your spending this season so you can stick to your holiday budget. Here are a couple of suggestions for the top three expenses that we usually spend on every holiday.
Recycle your decorations.
You do not need to buy a new set of Christmas decorations. As long as they are not ruined, you can still use them. If you do not want people to think that you recycled your decors, you can mix them up. What you used in the living room can be placed in the dining room. If you have amassed a lot of decors over the years, you can mix and match themes from previous seasons. You do not have to buy new ones just to make your home festive.
DIY your gifts.
Another thing that you can do is to make your own gifts. As mentioned earlier, if you know how to bake, you can bake a batch of cookies to give to family and friends. Or you can create a personalized calendar for your friends. All you need is a printer, access to the social media photos of your friends and you can layout them in a calendar. This will come in handy for next year. If you are good at arts and crafts, you can buy plain white mugs in bulk and decorate them. The white mugs will cost you less and with some extra time, you can personalize your gifts. This will allow you to give more gifts without going into holiday debt.
Plan your holiday meals.
Finally, let us talk about the holiday meals. When we gather together to celebrate the season, we usually plan for the meals that we will share. This is something that we cannot live without. But that does not mean you cannot find a way to cut costs. There are a lot of budget friendly meals out there, but the most important thing that you need to focus on are your leftovers. Having a lot of food on the table makes it feel very festive but do not serve more than what you can eat. If you have to serve a lot, make sure the leftovers will be eaten the next few meals after the main feast. A roasted chicken can be used to make sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. The fresh fruits on the table can be baked into a pie so it will last longer without spoiling. Think about your food waste as you plan your holiday meals.
By exerting effort to earn more and spend less this season, you can successfully lower your holiday budget so you can keep yourself from falling short and being in debt.