It´s time to face up to your yearly temptation to overspend during the holidays. From gifts, trips and parties, the pressure to live it up and lose our heads always leaves us with a post-holiday hangover debt. To avoid financial and spiritual woes in the aftermath of the cheery Christmas season, get ahead of your propensity to binge by planning and saving up now. With enough premeditated creativity and prudent savviness, your holiday can go from frenzied to debt-free fabulous.
Create a holiday saving account today
It´s likely that the holidays aren’t on your radar in the fall yet, but they should be. In fact, financial experts suggest starting to research online and make holiday purchases in August or September. Estimate a budget for what you want to spend and give yourself plenty of time to pay for it. For instance, you can slowly begin to move money you’re your holiday savings account each week or even automate your savings by contributing a small amount of each paycheck to this account.
Cutting back on weekly treats
It´s hard to go cold turkey, but little cutbacks here and there are more feasible. For instance, making your coffee at home instead of spending close to $4 on a latte each workday adds up to almost $1,000 a year in savings. Now, let´s look at that lunch money you’re wasting each week as well. Foregoing that $15 lunch out a couple of times per week adds up to about $1,500 in savings per year. These two items alone will net you nearly $2,500 for your holiday savings account.
Make a list early and stick to it
The majority of us can´t help getting completely carried away with buying presents, especially when we feel under pressure. Ever wonder why Santa checked his list twice? He was probably avoiding overspending. Once you have your budget set, make a list as early as possible and avoid getting swept up in the Christmas spirit and start buying every adorable thing you find for every person you’ve ever met.
Good Housekeeping’s consumer editor Sara Benwell offers advice for Christmas shopping within your budget: “Personally I have an Excel spreadsheet with the name of each family member, the budget for their presents, and ideas of what to get. I keep an eye out for sales (whether in books, booze or clothes) and buy when I see a great deal. Usually, my December ends up being relatively cheap and stress-free to boot.”