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Holiday budgeting made easy

The holiday season is full of joy—and additional expenses. Now is the time to plan ahead so you can make smart financial choices during the holidays. By using the following tips to cut out unnecessary spending, you can enjoy the holidays without experiencing a financial hangover in the new year.

Plan ahead

Before you start your holiday shopping. create a detailed list of the gifts you plan to purchase. Then, hold yourself accountable for sticking to it. Start with the basics and note next to each item how you plan to pay for it. You should also research and try to take advantage of holiday shopping deals that align with your list.

Commit to staying debt-free

One of the most important things you can do to improve your chances of staying debt-free is to avoid overspending on credit cards and to pay off the balances every month.

This is especially important during the holiday season to minimize any interest payments on unpaid balances. At the very least. commit to not going over your credit limit during the holiday months and paying off balances as soon as possible to keep your credit and credit score in good standing.

Know your credit card details

Before you begin your holiday shopping (or better yet. even before you start using your credit card), ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the APR?

  • How much of a balance am I carrying?

  • Does my card have a rewards program?

These questions can help you determine where. how and when to shop for the best deals of the season.

Consider shopping online

Given the impact of the pandemic. on line shopping is a great option to consider this holiday season. In addition to safety, online shopping allows you to do more research and have more data at your disposal-all of which can help you make the best financial decisions possible. Another plus? Online shopping combined with a plan removes much of the temptation of impulse buying.

Do your homework

While retailers will claim you're getting a great deal, don't take their word for it. Use on line review sites and comparison shopping apps to ensure you're paying the best possible price. If you're shopping on Amazon. for example. you can use specific services that track prices and let you know if you're actually getting a deal.

Rack up rewards

The points and rewards you've earned from loyalty programs can come in handy to reduce the amount you pay on your holiday gifts and other expenses. Every reward program is different. so be sure to clarify the details before you redeem your points or sign up for additional loyalty programs.

The best defense against overspending is to have the right mindset as you approach the holidays. Instead of making the holidays all about buying "things" or indulging in over-the-top entertaining, use your creativity and share memorable expe­riences with family and friends. By keeping the focus on the gift of love and friendship. you'll enjoy the holiday season more fully-and keep your finances in good standing. too. ■

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