Holidays are a time of joy and celebration for many of us, and in the middle of all that fun can come stress or worry about how we’re spending our money – but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to find the perfect little something for a loved one without adding to a credit card total or going over budget. With a few simple steps, you can keep your holidays merry and bright.
1. First, Make Budget
It seems obvious, but it’s a crucial step many people overlook. Make a list of every person you’d like to give a gift, and set a maximum amount to spend on each person. Put general ideas next to each person so you know how much items may cost. Include everyone you would like to share something with, no matter how big or small, including your postal worker, neighborhood service workers, and kids’ teachers. Total up that budget and make sure you can meet it. If not, revise your list accordingly with different budget amounts and ideas.
*PlanU Tip: Add a line item for unplanned gifts and purchase smaller items like candles or little plants in advance to give to people who may surprise you with a gift you weren’t anticipating. The candles will hold for future gifts, as will the plants with a little water and care.
2. Keep Your Shopping List Handy
Keep your list with you as you shop, check off an item as you make a purchase, and add to your total amount as you shop. If you over or underspend, you can make adjustments in real-time to make sure you stay within or under budget.
3. Check the Sales
The traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are being extended longer each year and provide you the opportunity to find some great deals. Signing up for email lists can get you one-time discounts, which can be useful for this time of year. Remember, you can always unsubscribe later if you no longer find the emails useful.
4. Shop & Ship Early
The sooner you shop and arrange for deliveries, the more you can save on shipping costs. The holidays always create longer delivery times, and this year will likely have even more issues with carriers and shipping. Plus, you won’t be stressed out during the holiday season!
5. Make Your Funds Foolproof
If you really want to make sure you stay within budget, you can purchase and use a prepaid debit card. Unlike a debit card connected to your checking account, a prepaid debit card will only allow you to spend the balance without fear of overdrafting your account.
By making your own list and checking it twice, you can have a stress-free holiday and focus on what matters most. When you create next year’s budget, include a line item for holiday shopping with this year’s total to make sure you save and account for the cost in the future. Closing CTA: If you’re looking for more helpful financial tips and tools to better plan, spend, save, and borrow, check out PlanU by UFCU. You’ll find options from talking with a financial health expert to creating a personalized resource center to meet your needs.