Just as eating too much holiday food ruins a waistline, too much holiday spending can ruin a budget. Save yourself from this stress by mapping out your spending in advance.
Prepare an overall holiday budget using realistic expenditures and stick to it.
Set realistic spending limits. Take a hard look at what you can spend on each person. If it adds up to more than you can afford, pare it down. Do what Santa does and check the list twice. Have your list with you when you go shopping and check it often to stay within your limits.
Try to think creatively about how to reduce costs. You might give a gift of service such as gardening or snow clearing time for an elder rather than an item they have little use for. Draw names so fewer gifts are given, or make a gift.
Pay for gifts in cash, rather than using credit cards. This helps reduce spending because people think more carefully when paying with cash. If you do buy on credit, enter the amount of each purchase in your chequebook register, just as if you were writing a cheque. Keeping a running tally of the expanding balance should deter you from overspending.
Consider opening a Christmas or Holiday Club savings account at the beginning of 2011 and deposit money every month. That way, cash will be available for the holiday shopping.
Plan ahead to make the holiday season more enjoyable. Make your holidays a time for living, laughing, loving, sharing, caring and learning without a ruined budget!
– Rosemary Heins is a family resource management educator with
University of Minnesota Extension.