Don’t blink, because the holiday season is already here! The National Retail Federation expects this to be a big year for winter holiday shopping, with sales expected to increase up to 10.5% over last year. That’s great news for the economy as a whole because it signals that American households are willing and able to spend. However, on a micro level, you’ll want to make sure your holiday spending is full of seasonal cheer and no stress. Read on for three steps to keep your holiday budgeting merry and bright.
Step 1: Write it down
Consumers plan to spend an average of $998 this year on items including gifts, food, decorations and random seasonal purchases. It’s a good idea to get clear about how much money you can spend.
First, make a realistic budget for yourself. Analyze your monthly expenses and compare them with your household earnings. This will give you an idea of your disposable income. Is there somewhere in your monthly budget where you can cut expenses? Eliminating non-essential items will help free up space for holiday purchases.
Next, make a list of what you need to buy for the holidays. Ask these questions:
- Who will you purchase gifts for this year?
- Are you hosting any holiday events?
- Do you plan to purchase any new holiday decor for your home?
- What are your travel plans?
Now that you have created your holiday shopping list, it’s time to prioritize. You’ll also want to budget an appropriate amount of money for each item on your list and decide which ones are non-negotiables. Prioritizing will help you stick to your budget as you proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: Cash over credit
You have a good idea of your household budget, and you have a holiday shopping list. Now you can get to work and start shopping! Take your list with you as you shop. You can keep a running tally on your smartphone or bring an old-fashioned pencil and paper. On your list, include the details of how much money you can spend on each item.
Here’s a trick to stick to this holiday budgeting plan: pay with cash! It’s easy to overspend with a credit or debit card, and cash will keep you aware.
Before you head out the door, check your inbox for coupons, as this will help you stretch your budget even further. If you plan to shop at a specific store, visit the retailer’s website. You might find in-store-only coupons and deals.
Step 3: Track as you go
The holiday season is several weeks long, and it’s easy to let little purchases pile up. Monitor your expenditures as you shop so your spending doesn’t get out of hand. You could do this using a free budgeting app, or keep a little notebook in your vehicle. The last thing you want is a big bill come January 2022, and recording your expenses will help keep your holiday budgeting on track.
When you’re working on your household budget, you know that a mortgage plays a big role in your finances. First Centennial Mortgage has the tools and expertise to make planning your home payments easy and simple. We offer an online loan calculator to help you see what you could afford, and our loan officers are ready to answer any questions about your mortgage needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help take the stress out of home financing.