The holly jolly holidays are coming up—a time of joy, laughter, and family fun. But for many, this time of year can cause a lot of financial strain and stress, with expensive gifts to buy and peak-season holiday travel that can leave your wallet a little lighter. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a budget in place as a spending plan of action, you can keep your financials on track to end the year on a high note. Here are some bad habits to avoid to keep your holiday budget shiny and bright.
Not Setting a Budget in the First Place
If you’re not setting a holiday spending budget, you’re putting your money on the line. It’s important to know how much you have to allocate to gifts, parties, new outfits and travel, and it’s best if you have it all laid out in advance. How much are you planning to spend, and do you truly have the funds to do so? By thinking about money early, you’re in a better place to save enough to do everything you want over the holiday season.
Leaving Shopping to the Last Minute
If you’re a last-minute shopper, you could be losing a lot of money. It’s okay to run to the store a day before a gift exchange to pick up something small for your office white elephant exchange, but if you’re shopping for all your gifts this way, you’re probably not taking advantage of holiday deals. And if you’re ordering online, leaving purchases to the last minute can mean that you’re paying a bundle in shipping to make sure the gifts arrive in time. Build in a little time cushion to your purchases, and get an early start to save money.
Ignoring Your Finances Until January
It’s easy to get into a head-in-the-sand mentality during the holidays, thinking about how busy you are, or not wanting to ruin the festivities with a financial reality check. But checking in with your credit card or bank account balance is a healthy way to remind yourself of your budget and to see if your spending is on track to meet it. Thinking about your financial health before the new year can give you a big boost on your resolutions.
Getting Caught Up in the Season of Spending
Just because holiday sales are going strong doesn’t mean that you need what they’re selling. A deal is only a deal if you already needed that item in the first place. It’s easy to demolish your bank account if you spend on items you don’t actually require, so do some deep thinking about what you really need to buy. If you can, give yourself a day or so to think about a big purchase before making it. Sleeping on a decision goes a long way to keep spending in check.
Giving in to FOMO
“Fear of missing out,” “keeping up with the Joneses” – call it what you want, but buying something to project a particular image if it’s a look you can’t afford will quickly do some damage to your budget. You don’t need to shower someone with expensive gifts to show them you care, and you don’t need to make a big purchase just because your neighbors have a new shiny something in their driveway.
Binging On Parties
When there’s so much going on for the season, a few extra drinks with friends or a fancy meat and cheese plate for the office Christmas party can start to add up. It’s okay to let your hair down a little and celebrate, but just be conscious of how much you’re spending and whether or not it fits into your plan.
For more money tips and financial tricks to help you through the holidays, visit the rest of the RMCU blog.
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