The holiday season is right around the corner. Year-to-year, many consumers enter into the season confident they will make the right buying choices both in terms of budget and preference, but tend to fall short.
Here are five ways you can make sure you stick to your shopping list without breaking the bank:
- Start NOW
Whether you are shopping for gifts, decorations or a large family meal, consistently putting aside money earlier in the year can help. Put aside money each month before the holiday season begins (that is separate from your savings) to use once the later months roll around. That way, you have an allotted amount that you can spend and you can stick to your budget. If you think you’re going to drop a lot of cash this year, start saving really early.
An alternative would be to pace out your purchases—buy a number of gifts each month and set them aside for the big day.
- Plan Ahead
Who are you buying gifts for? How many family members are you cooking for? Where are you traveling to? Planning ahead with all of these details will allow you to see exactly where your money is going, how much you should budget to which item, and how much you should have in contingency funds.
- Shop Black Friday
While this may be cutting it close for some, Black Friday is a pivotal day for saving. Black Friday, with electronics especially, provides countless deals and discounts on items that you may have had your eye on, but have been hesitant to purchase. The key to conquering shopping during Black Friday: stick to the deals. Anything that is not on sale can wait until after the holidays are over.
- Shop Online
Once you’re through with Black Friday, stick around for Cyber Monday, the online deal day that follows through the weekend after Thanksgiving. Similar to Black Friday in that it’s a day chock-full of discounts, the advantage to Cyber Monday is that you can take your time with comparing prices on different sites, and have more luck with finding exactly what you are looking for.
Even without Cyber Monday, shopping online for the holidays can be beneficial. Skip the lines and the crowds at the stores by ordering gifts and décor straight from a site. Doing this earlier in the season (like, now) gives you a better chance of receiving your items in a decent amount of time.
(Before you check out, be sure that you’re practicing these online safety tips, especially during the holiday season.)
- Pay in Cash
A great way to stay within budget is to physically carry cash. Keep your cards in your wallet and pay for everything in physical bills. That way you know exactly how close you are to going over budget, and you don’t have to stress about what your credit card statement will look like at the end of the month.
The last thing you want after celebrating the holidays at the end of the year is to bring that debt with you into the new year. Utilize these tips to keep the 2016 holiday season in 2016.