hand holding up a gift in front of a christmas tree

Controlling Your Holiday Spending

Most years it feels like just as you’re finishing up your Thanksgiving meal, you turn around and it’s December 20th… and you haven’t gotten all the presents you need for the Christmas holidays. It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday season. But being present, and planning a little, could end up saving you a lot of money to bring you into the new year.

Here are some ways to keep the holidays from eating up all your extra cash.

Stop shopping in stores

Going into that mall? Well, that was your first mistake. Once you walk into a store you’re on the marketer’s turf now. It’s the same with places like Target. You run in wanting to buy some toilet paper and walk out pushing a cart’s worth of items. Know that you will be tempted to buy things once you’re at a physical store because you’ve already made the effort to get yourself there – you’ve gotten yourself out of the house, spent time and gas money, and now, if you don’t leave with that sweater you don’t really think is that great, but still could be good for Mom, then your day is wasted. Solution? Browse online first. It’s free, and easy to brainstorm ideas for people on your list. Once you get an idea and know the types of things you’re looking for then you can either buy online or, if you need them fast, you can run out for those particular items. Just be careful with that one-click buy button.

What is Enough, Really?

It’s hard to know when you’ve gotten enough. You bought your brother that cookbook, but he really should have some cooking tools to go with it. And, maybe if he had a chef’s hat he’d feel more professional…

It feels good to get things for people and it feels good to lay down your card when you don’t have a real dollar amount tied to any one person. But the credit card statement is coming at the beginning of January and you’re going to realize you just bought your brother a designer kitchen and can’t pay for it. Solution? Make a budget and a list. Know how much you want to spend for each person on your list of people and stick to it. You’ll be thankful after the Williams & Sonoma haze has worn off.

Start Early

When you’re rushing around trying to check everyone off your list, it’s easy to put down a credit card out of convenience. Don’t do this. If you actually plan ahead, then you can find the deals and sales for the people you’re looking for. Ultimately, it’s less stress for you and less express shipping charges.

Use coupons

Go add Honey to your online shopping cart right now. It’s a free online coupon provider and you’ll be happy you did. Also check out sites like RetailMeNot to find steals

Use cash or your debit card

Yes, using your credit card that will give you travel points is very tempting in situations like these, but it also makes it very easy to spiral out of control. When you take out cash before you go to a physical store, or use your debit card, your purse strings always feel pulled a little tighter because you’re actually seeing your hard-earned savings disappear. This way you’ll also avoid a nasty credit card statement in January.

Consumers say they will spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2018 Holiday Spending Survey. So write out your gift plans for people now to get ahead of the Christmas rush. Or, bookmark this and set a reminder to read again in early November of 2019.