Save on Holiday Spending

While many people won’t spend that much on shopping, any spending that strains your finances or saddles you with post-holiday debt is bad for your financial future -- period. Take the time now to talk with family and friends about realistic holiday spending limits. Consider less expensive gift options like homemade gifts. If you have a large extended family, maybe it’s time to start a new tradition of picking one person out of a hat to buy a gift for, rather than everybody buying a gift for every single other person in the family.

Financial experts warn that emotional spending during the holidays can push you over your financial limits, but a proper plan can prevent the hangover.

Here are some holiday spending mistakes to avoid this holiday season to help the after-holiday season brighter.

Focus on what is important. Keep in mind that holiday spending is short-term spending. Once the unwrapping frenzy is over, how long does the excitement last? Saving your money for long-term goals like home ownership, college or a comfortable retirement may be the very best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones.

Make a list. Write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. If you go without a list, you might as well just throw your money away. Better yet, donate it to me — I probably need it more than you. :) Seriously, though, you need a list. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. This will help you manage your holiday budget.

Remember you spend more. It can be easy to forget that we spend a lot of money on other things besides gifts during the holidays. Big holiday dinners, travel to see family and friends and even increased electricity costs to run that massive holiday light display can drain your bank account. Make sure you plan for the cost of all of your extra holiday activities.

Shop at stores where you earn money back on your purchases. Doing things like catching early sales, comparison shopping, ordering from sites or stores that offer free shipping, shopping at discount stores, and buying items that offer rebates can help save you money on holiday purchases.

Stick with the list. When I go to the store, I know exactly how much I can spend. Then I try my best to stick within that limit. If you don’t know how much you can spend, you’ll certainly spend too much.

Even with all the budgeting in the world, the holidays can still be financially taxing. You may start out strong, and then the last minute expenses hit you. But there are preventative measures you can take to help avoid this. One of the best ways to watch how much you are spending is to buy gifts with cash whenever possible; do not use credit cards. If you only pay in cash, then when you run out, you run out. Keeping track of how much you are spending is much easier if you have the money physically on hand.

If you follow these tips, you can enjoy this holiday season without being a miser. Plan ahead, save money and enjoy this year!