By Nicole Dugan
Even if you have made it a priority to save and invest in stocks throughout the year, the holiday season can often throw a wrench in your monthly budget. From gift-giving to prepping for holiday parties, the month of December is a time when many of us forget about our budgets and over-spend. Here’s some tips to help you stay on track with spending this holiday season so that you don’t forgo your saving and investing goals.
The numbers game
In order to stick to your budget during the holidays, you first have to create a one! Start by making note of who you are purchasing gifts for and set an amount for each person. When you know exactly how much you are willing to spend on each person on your list, it makes it easier to stay on track and prevent splurging on gifts you can’t afford.
Create a Plan of Attack
Shop with a plan. If you have an idea of what you want to get each person on your list, you are less likely to shop impulsively. By pinpointing the gifts you want to purchase, you can save money by comparing the price of the items online. You may be able to get the same product cheaper at one store versus another, so taking the time to surf the internet before hitting the mall may save you money in the long run.
It’s all about the money
We all know the holidays are expensive. On top of purchasing gifts, there’s the countless batches of cookies you have to bake and the decorations to think of. You may get invited to a holiday party or two, which could mean the unexpected expense of a host of hostess gift. So, it’s important to cut costs when and where you can. If you are participating in a secret Santa or gift exchange with friends, for example, suggest a price limit. Your friends’ wallets will thank you.
Not all payment methods are created equal. In a perfect world, you would start saving for the holidays in June and then walk into the mall with cash to purchase all your gifts. In reality, this isn’t always feasible. Make every effort to make your purchases with cash or debit card. If you have to use your credit card, select the one with the lowest APR and devise a strategy for paying it off in the coming months. You might even consider transferring your credit card balance to a card that has 0% APR for the first year. Then, you just need to make sure to pay off the balance before the year is up!
Give Yourself a Gift Too
Even if you have made it a priority to save and invest a certain amount each month, you may not be able to put aside that same amount during the holiday season due to the extra strain on your wallet. Accept this, and put aside whatever amount you can- anything counts. Allow yourself to participate in holiday festivities, but make sure to put aside a small amount of savings for yourself- you deserve it.
If you follow these tips to create a spending plan for the holiday season, you won’t need to completely abandon the investing strategy you have previously committed yourself to. Make every effort to stick to your budget and promise yourself to invest whatever is left over after every gift has been wrapped.