I feel like I’ve barely even had a chance to blink since Halloween, but the holiday shopping season is already in full force. The expectation to shop-til-you-drop is inescapable; it’s everywhere–television, the radio, and online. So how can you manage to get your finances in order under so much pressure to spend? If you spend a little time drawing up a game plan of sorts, it is possible, and fortunately there’s still plenty of time over the next 6 weeks to look at your money situation and work on budgeting. Here are 5 tips to keep your bank account in the positive as the buying season approaches.
5 Ways To Save For The Holidays in Six Weeks
1. Set a gift budget and remember to include all likely gift recipients (friends, family, kids’ teachers etc). Communicate it with friends and family to set expectations. Remember that constraints can lead to creativity – less expensive gifts don’t necessarily mean less excitement. And calculating a budget now will help you avoid impulse spending later. GoGirl expert Sophia Bera suggests finding budgeting tools that work for you, “an excel spreadsheet, a google doc, Moven, Mint, or a good old fashioned pen and paper.” You know what makes you most comfortable.
2. Once you know what your holiday budget is, think about how you’re going to meet it. Consider giving up some of your “luxury” items over the next several weeks. Skip the Starbucks and make your coffee at home. Give up the weekly mani/pedi, and do your nails yourself. Take the time to set up a separate account, and calculate how much you need to save weekly. Once you know how much you need to save, start having it automatically transferred. You’ll be shocked at how quickly it all adds up.
3. Think about consigning items that you no longer use (such as clothing or bags). You can do this at a physical store, or online (through a site such as eBay). As they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. And it could mean some extra cash in your pocket.
4. If you really need to make some extra cash quickly, consider taking on some extra seasonal, freelance, or contract work in the evenings or over the weekends. It certainly won’t be easy – particularly at this time of year – but if there’s an end in sight (and you end up with extra disposable income), it may be worth it. Need suggestions on how to get started? Check out this post.
5. Try to stay away from your credit cards. It’s been proven that people paying with credit spend more than those paying with cash. Credit cards do serve a purpose, but if you’re trying to stick to a budget, they’re not your best bet. Have a set amount of cash to curb over-spending.