The holidays will be here before you know it. Is your wallet ready? Taking a bit of time to get things in order before the holidays arrive can help you save money. Let’s take a closer look at how to get your finances ready for the holidays.
Create a Budget
First things first. You want to create a budget. Even if you have a budget you use, you need to create a new one that helps you make it through the holidays. Miscellaneous expenses will definitely increase as will your grocery bill. You need to take all of this into account so that you can make changes to help you cover the costs.
You also want to have a gift giving budget for each person so you don't overspend on gifts by adding “just one more thing”. It's easy to end up buying more than you intended if you don't keep track of your spending.
Cut the Unnecessary
During the holiday season, you can cut some of the expenses that aren’t a necessity. For example, you might decide to get rid of cable or satellite during the holiday season to save around $150 each month. You might also decide to plan less expensive menus so that you’ll have more money to spend on holiday dinners (or use the food you already have on hand in your pantry). If you cut enough expenses (and perhaps get a second part-time job), you can save $1,000 for Christmas.
Start Shopping Now
Don’t wait to start shopping. You can save money by hitting sales and clearance sections throughout the year. For example, you might be able to buy the things you’ll need for baking in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Or, you might find an awesome deal on toys in the clearance section. Best of all, this helps you spread out the cost.
Set Aside Money Each Week
Set aside money each week that can be used for the holidays. If you have money that is normally fun money, you might decide to use those funds for the holidays. Or you may use the money you saved cutting unnecessary expenses to put away for the holidays.
If you have a longer period, consider saving money all year for Christmas. We have gifts as a line item in our budget, and I transfer money to savings each month that is dedicated to Christmas spending. That way, I don't have to try to fit all the extra spending into my budget over one or two months. It makes it way more manageable for our family!
Last, but not least, layaway is a wonderful way to get your finances ready for the holidays. There are a few stores that offer layaway, at least during the holiday season. If you purchase your gifts this way, at least the larger ones, you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need to pay each week. However, I would only do this as a last resort. Try to save up enough cash to pay up front and have a budget for each person.
To help yourself stick to your budget, you need to take the time to get your finances ready for the holidays. Make a budget. Start shopping now. And, if it helps you stick to your budget, consider layaway. There are a number of ways to make things easier.