We may only be half way through November but there’s no denying it: the holiday season is here and, whether we’ve prepared for it or not, the rush of holiday parties, family get-togethers, gift exchanges, and planning for New Year’s Eve is right around the corner.
Yes, the holiday rush can become overwhelming. And yes, it can get EX-PEN-SIVE. But if we’re being honest, our holiday budget and shopping is the last thing we want to worry about when we’re spending time with family and enjoying an abundance of holiday treats. So, to help you take the worry out of your holiday spending, we’ve come up with a guide to help you budget throughout the holiday season.
Make a list of expenses
Write down everything you will need to buy during the holidays. Include gifts, décor, gift wrapping, entertaining, outfits for holiday parties, and any expenses related to events you’ll be attending (like NYE tickets). If you have items you can use from last year, like leftover wrapping paper or décor items, take a quick inventory to make sure you won’t be shopping for something you already have.
Create a budget for each item
Decide on an overall budget and then take some time to split it between categories and prioritize your spending. If you prefer to entertain during the holiday season instead of buying gifts, take that into consideration when creating your budget. If you’re not sure how much a certain item costs, do a quick search and use an estimate. Try to be as specific as possible and, most importantly, make sure your budget is reasonable. You will likely spend more during the holiday season than you will throughout the rest of the year, but it’s still important to spend within your means and create a budget that works for you.
Track your spending
Layout your budget in a spreadsheet and keep note of everything you buy and how much it costs. This way, you will know exactly what you've checked off your list and you'll be able to see where your budget can be adjusted. For example, maybe you spent more on decorations but can spend less on gifts to still stay within the means of your budget.
Be mindful when using your credit card
During the holidays, it’s easy to rely on the convenience of a credit card. Instead, make it a point to use cash or debit before reaching for that small piece of plastic. Or, if you’ve accumulated any rewards points throughout the year, now might be a great time to use them. When you do use credit, use it wisely. Try to find a card that allows you to maximize your points and/or get cash back during times of increased spending, like the holidays. Make sure you don't go over your limit, and only spend what you know you can pay off in full at the end of the month.
Keep your receipts
It’s easy to lose track of receipts in the throes of increased shopping, but be sure to keep them all together. You never know when an item might go on sale and you can get a price adjustment. And if you change your mind about a gift (or more likely, your loved one decides they want something else), you can return it without too much hassle.
Shop the sales
The only thing more exciting than finding the perfect gift for a loved one is finding it on sale, but make sure you stick to your shopping list so you don’t over-buy – even if the prices are great. If you’re kicking off your holiday shopping over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, check out these tips on how to avoid over-spending in the throes of crazy deals.
Be aware of shipping costs and exchange rates
During holiday mall hours, shopping online is much more appealing. If you’d rather shop from your couch, or if you anticipate needing to order anything online, be sure to work shipping costs and exchange rates into your budget. Use an online currency calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll be spending in Canadian dollars before hitting the ‘confirm purchase’ button.
Remember to gift yourself
While it may be tempting to spend your budget on those you love, remember it’s important to take care of yourself, too. Continue putting money aside for yourself to make sure you’re not falling behind with your savings goals. If you haven’t already, set up a pre-authorized contribution on your investment account(s) to make your saving easy and consistent throughout the holiday season.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush and expenses of the holiday season, but we hope these tips help you spend less time worrying about your budget, and more time with your friends and family. Happy holiday season from the Invisor Team!