For many of us, the festive period, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, tends to be the most expensive time of the year. We have gifts to buy, food and drinks to put money into, vacations to pay for, outfits to splurge on, and more.
If you’re worried about blowing your budget this year and ending up with a huge credit card bill to pay in the New Year or a sad-looking account balance, you need to remember that there are ways you can cut costs and keep your spending within your allocated amounts. Here’s how you can do just that.
Start By Actually Setting a Budget for Different Things
You won’t keep your expenses low unless you actually have a budget to stick to in the first place. It’s wise to come up with a figure you feel comfortable with and can afford to spend on all of your festive costs, and then break this down into separate budgets for each area.
For example, you might have a number you plan to spend on things like Christmas food, decorations, travel, and party attendance costs. There might be a budget for buying men’s gifts and presents for ladies, kids, pets, and everyone else in your life, as well as for co-workers, neighbors, or service staff (such as cleaners, gardeners, or your mail delivery person).
You might also want to set aside money for getting your home professionally cleaned or repairs done in the lead-up to Christmas if you’re hosting everyone at your house and want to get your home ready. You may also want a budget for attending events and activities, among other things.
Having budgets will help you to avoid spending blowouts because you will be more likely to keep an eye on your cash flow and determine whether or not you can afford to spend money on a product or service based on how far through your budget you are at the time.
Make a Plan to Help You Keep Costs Lower
Next, come up with a plan to keep your costs lower. Work out when you’re more likely to spend more than you should, and prepare ways to avoid this happening. For example, you might decide not to drink on nights out when having Christmas catchups with friends or colleagues.
You won’t spend so much money on alcohol, cabs, or other transport, and you won’t become tempted to throw caution to the wind and start ordering rounds for everyone or expensive cocktails because you’ve had too many drinks. You might also decide to leave your credit or debit card at home on such occasions and take a limited amount of cash with you to spend.
Alternatively, your weak spot might be buying too many gifts for people, especially your kids. If so, you may talk with your partner about getting them to sign off on items before you outlay funds, so you don’t end up making impulse purchases, or you might decide on a specific amount per person you’ll spend or a set number of gifts you can buy for your kids and remind yourself of these limits when you’re shopping.
Stay Home More
Another way to reduce how much money you outlay over the festive period is to stay home more. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on many get-togethers. Why not invite your co-workers, family members, or friends to your place to enjoy festivities together? This way, you can avoid the more expensive restaurant meals or bar and pub drinks and instead cater to your guests by cooking at home.
You may even want to suggest that everyone bring a plate of food to your home and have a potluck type of event to reduce costs further. Such occasions also allow you to save money on transport, babysitting, and the outfits you might splurge on if you feel you need something new when attending a fancy venue.
Some other top tips for sticking within your budget over the coming month or two include:
- Utilizing loyalty points and gift cards in stores so you can get Christmas gifts, food, and other items for less
- Handmaking items to gift to people rather than buying everything
- Browsing and buying sooner rather than later so you can shop around and get lower prices, and also not have to spend extra on express shipping at the last minute
- Track your spending religiously, so you know how much you’ve spent of your budget each week
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to be proactive and keep to a budget this festive period while still enjoying the many happy occasions and opportunities that arise during the weeks ahead.