If might be a huge exaggeration to start thinking about your holiday budget right now. However, there are valid reasons why you should seriously consider this budget as early as September.
According to the data from the NRF.com, the average consumer spent $802 during the 2014 holiday season. This amount included holiday gifts and decors – and other usual expenses during the holidays. The same data from the National Retail Federation revealed that most people (42% of men and 38% of women) started their holiday shopping during November. This coincides with the many sales and discounts that happen during this time. Only 6% of men and 8% of women start shopping for the holidays in September.
While there is nothing wrong with shopping as late as November, it may be more beneficial for you to start early this year. If anything, this move can help you be financially fit for the holidays. This is especially true if your holiday budget is expected to be tight this year. Preparing for the holidays early will not only help you save money, it will also keep you from feeling stressed as you try to cram all the shopping within a couple of weeks.
5 reasons why you should start planning your holiday spending
Here are 5 important reasons for you to start thinking about your holiday budget as early as now.
You can plan and anticipate your spending.
The first reason is for planning purposes. You want to control your holiday spending to avoid going beyond your budget. When you plan something, you can anticipate what will happen. In this case, you can anticipate how much you need to spend and who will benefit from your expenses. It will allow you to make smart choices when it comes to holiday details like your home decor, gifts, and the meals you will serve.
You can save up for holiday expenses
Once you have planned your holiday spending, you can start saving up for it. Some people probably wait until the last minute to shop because they are waiting for their holiday bonus. This actually makes sense but then again, you can save up for your holiday budget. The earlier you start, the less amount you have to contribute from every paycheck. In case you do have a bonus, this can be spent on a well deserved holiday or better yet, be invested in something that can help you grow it.
You can avoid holiday debt
Probably the most important reason to plan your holiday budget ahead of schedule is to avoid debt. If you do not plan your holiday spending, you won’t be able to save enough money to pay for your expenses. Usually, this will lead you to use your credit card to pay off your holiday shopping. According to an article published on Forbes.com, the interest rate on credit cards is quite high. The average interest is 13.93%. The article explained that if you spent $1,000 and paid only the minimum payment, that can cost you $350 on interest. Store credit cards are even more notorious for their high-interest rates. This is why you need to think about your holiday spending as early as September. The more time you have to prepare, the more you can avoid holiday debt.
You can afford to wait for sale events
Another reason to start early for the holidays is to maximize sale events. You can afford to wait for sale events or you can make purchases during the off peak season. This is a great way for you to save a lot of money when it comes to your holiday decorations and gifts. You can also take advantage of the lower prices when shopping online because you have the time to wait for the shipped gifts to arrive.
You can DIY your gifts
Finally, thinking about your holiday budget early will allow you to decide if you should DIY your gifts. Although this will cost you less and will make your gift more valuable, it will take some time to create. This is especially true if you have a lot of people on your gift giving list. By starting early, you can pace your DIY projects so it will not cram every gift. Here is a video with some DIY gifts that you can do for your loved ones. Some of the ideas are not age or gender sensitive so you can use it as a gift idea for anyone.
Tips to spend less this holiday season
The main reason why you want to think about your holiday budget is to help you spend less than what is necessary this coming season. MagnifyMoney.com revealed that the average debt of Americans is $986 – at least, this is the amount of holiday debt that they added to their existing balance. These are the expenses that were spent for the holiday parties, gifts, and various activities during the season. The article revealed that having holiday debt made consumers feel stressed about the whole thing. In order to avoid this stress, you may want to follow these tips that will help you minimize your holiday spending.
- Be creative with your gifts. As mentioned, you could DIY your gifts. But beyond that, there are other options for you to spend less on the holiday gifts. You can trade in services as a gift instead of buying another set of dinnerware or home decor.
- Encourage the “potluck” tradition. For holiday parties, you do not have to spend a lot of money on the meals you will eat. If you are inviting family or friends over, ask them to bring at least one dish to share. This will help keep your costs low and at the same time, won’t make you feel too tired when it comes to cooking several dishes.
- Exchange gifts. This is one way you can avoid buying all your colleagues holiday gifts. Have everyone pick a name and they can give that one person a gift. You do not have to buy each and everyone a gift – just the person whose name you have drawn.
- Skip individual gifts, buy for a group. If you have to give a gift to a couple or a family, try to buy for the group. For a couple, you can opt to buy them something they can enjoy at home. For a family, you can buy them a game board or something that they can all play together. This will shorten your gift giving list and help you save money.
- Recycle your holiday decorations. We all like to decorate our homes for the holidays because it adds to the festivities. Instead of buying new ones, you can recycle the ones you used last year. To avoid making it look the same as before, you can opt to add different colored bows or paint your old decors with new shades.
- Choose cost-efficient holiday activities. Finally, you need to consider doing low-cost activities to enjoy the holidays. You can tour the neighborhood with your kids to enjoy the outdoor Christmas decorations. You can go sledding. You can also go to see Santa at the mall or visit different establishments to enjoy their holiday decors. These are activities you can enjoy as a family. For activities at home, you can opt to bake together or watch a movie in the living room. There are so many things that you can do and a lot of them do not have to make you spend a lot of money.
All of these tips should help you keep your holiday budget low and avoid the unnecessary costs of holiday debt.
Common questions about holiday budget
Question: What is a holiday budget?
Answer: This is a specific budget plan that you will use to help you anticipate your holiday spending. It should list the expenses that you will spend on gifts, decorations, trips, etc. This budget will tell you how much you need to prepare for the holidays.
Question: Why is a holiday budget important?
Answer: The main reason why you want to make a holiday budget is to avoid spending too much. Most of the time, this leads to holiday debts.
Question: How do I set a holiday budget?
Answer: Start by listing the expenses that you have to make. You can look at the list that you had the previous year. Identify the expenses that you will add or remove from the list. Once you have the expenses, you can compute the amount that you will spend to pay for everything. After getting this amount, you can determine how you will raise the money to fund your holiday expenses.
Question: How to plan for a holiday budget with a new baby?
Answer: When you have a baby, the expenses will definitely increase. However, you do not want to go overboard with this. Your baby will not really remember what will happen – so focus on those that will help your child look back on their first few holidays (e.g. photos, etc).
Question: How to plan for a travel holiday budget?
Answer: The cost will depend on where you intend to travel and your companions. Create an itinerary for the trip so you can anticipate the activities and the appropriate budget for each. Ideally, you want to book the trip early so you can take advantage of an early bird discount.