Your Holiday Budget Game Plan

A recent survey found that 82 percent of adults in the U.S. find holiday spending stressful. Holiday parties, gift-giving, and the urge to vacation all add up to a less-than-happy bank account.

Financial stress can take the joy out of the holiday season, but there are some small steps you can take to limit spending during this time of year.

Here are some easy tips:

  • Budgeting: Budgeting is one of the simplest ways to save money. Allow yourself a certain amount to spend on various holiday needs, from presents to travel. You can also budget monthly by capping your spending at a certain number each month. Of course, you have to be diligent in staying within your boundaries.
  • Track your spending: With so many trips to grocery stores and retailers, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how much you’re actually spending. Recording how much you spend each time you shop is helpful for knowing where your finances are at. There are many methods to track spending- apps, excel sheets, highlighting receipts- choose what works best for you and stick to it.
  • Record what you bought: The holidays are synonymous with parties and lots of food. It’s easy to forget what you bought and accidentally buy duplicates. Keep a record of what you purchased and when so you avoid buying more than you need, especially with foods that have a short shelf life. Use that information to make a list before you leave your house. Know what you need and where it is in the store to avoid buying more than the necessities.
  • Meal planning: Meal planning has been shown to reduce spending and prevent the urge to eat out. It also helps you to see how much you’ll be spending on food before the week even starts. Set aside time each weekend to plan your meals for the week.
  • DIY gifts: The holidays are usually marked by spending time with loved ones and, in some cases, exchanging gifts. Last year, one study found that people expected to spend $907 on Christmas gifts alone. Rather than buying gifts, put on your craft-making hat and try DIY gifts instead. Mason jars with recipes are always a favorite. You could also try making your own candles using wax and essential oils. The possibilities are endless and others will surely appreciate your talent and effort.
  • Staycation: Many families travel during the holidays to get their kids out of the house, but staycations can be just as fun! Take advantage of the Michigan snowfalls and have a family snowball fight. If you’re up for a challenge, building a snow castle or igloo is lots of fun, and the kids can play in it until the snow melts away. Staying at home will save on travel expenses while still creating memories for the whole family. There really is no place like home for the holidays.

If you prefer to plan ahead, a great New Year’s resolution could be to budget for the holidays all year long. Set aside a certain amount each month to allocate towards holiday spending. You’ll thank yourself in November when finances are already figured out.

These small adjustments will help to keep your family, friends and finances happy during the most wonderful time of the year.

What are your holiday money-saving tips? Share them with us in the comments. 

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Photo credit: Jelena Danilovic

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