Yes, Thanksgiving hasn’t even passed, but with the holidays fast approaching, many are gearing up for their holiday shopping. Hello, Black Friday deals! Between decorations, gifts, and other expenses, the holidays can take a toll on your finances if you don’t plan carefully. Overspending may leave you feeling like a Grinch long after December 25th! Avoid debt troubles this holiday season by keeping these smart budgeting tips in mind.

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1. Monitor your budget and keep the personal spending low. Your holiday budget should be determined by how much money you have left over after paying all of your other monthly priorities, like rent, bills, and savings. Review your budget to determine exactly how much you will be able to spend on each person on your list. It is tempting to buy something for yourself too while holiday shopping but try to resist the urge! You can always add it to your own wish list.

2. Sell stuff! If your holiday budget is lacking, consider selling the things you don’t need! It’s easy to forget saving for the holidays in advance, along with the other commitments we have throughout the year. Here’s a little holiday spending tip: set aside money throughout the year so your budget won’t feel the heat! Selling some of your belongings is a great way find extra cash last minute for your gift fund. Take advantage of this opportunity to do a little de-cluttering.

3. Draft a budget for each person on your list. As listed above, the first step is to always analyze your cash flow, set spending limits and see how much you can afford to spend this holiday. This will help create your spending plan for each person. We love setting price limits on gifts. It’s a great way to keep the monetary value consistent, and prevents the feeling of being “out gifted” during gift exchanges.

4. Comparison shop online. With Cyber Monday approaching, don’t forget to price check before you commit to buying. You may find that certain household appliances and other goods are usually listed much cheaper on Amazon or other sites. However, be careful not to blow your budget by paying for shipping. Look for the deals that offer free shipping before racking up extra costs in that shopping cart! Also check your inbox for coupons and deals that are coming up because who wants to pay full price for anything? Not us!

5. If you can't afford it, don’t use credit cards. Yes, the meaning behind this post is how to not go into debt during the holiday season, right? Well let’s get right to the point. Buying gifts on credit will end up costing you more in the long run if you don't pay them off in full right away. It’s all because of a sneaky little thing called interest. Add in months of finance charges and you’ll ultimately pay more for your gifts than you would if you used cash or your debit card. Credit cards have a tendency to feel “limitless” and those without self-control may find it easy to overspend. If this sounds like you, refer to all of the above points! Implementing a savings plan into your budget ahead of time for your holiday gifts can make all the difference. If you do use your credit card during the holidays, be sure to have a plan in place to pay off the balance in a timely manner.

6. DIY while there’s still time. Some of the most meaningful gifts are homemade gifts. They’re not expensive, but certainly can take time. If you have a crafty talent or hobby, such as knitting or scrapbooking, you could create gifts for a least a few of the people on your list. These gifts are more likely to show how much you care and are more personable! Foster your inner Pinterest spirit :)

Do you need help with your holiday budget? Schedule your appointment with us today through ISUappointments or give us a call at 515-294-0677.