’Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house, hardly a creature was stirring but for the click of a mouse. For family members were checking financial statements online, and learning their finances were far from just fine.
As the hangovers from too much eggnog and pumpkin-pie bloat start to ease, the financial headaches from overspending set in. Break the holiday overspending tradition this year by sticking to these five simple rules:
1. Make a budget: Figure out what you can reasonably spend this year on gifts without accumulating debt. Establish a budget to avoid spending more than you can afford, especially with credit cards. Tech-savvy individuals may consider using an online budgeting tool to help make the process more fun.
2. Make mini-plans: Decide in advance how much of the total spending plan will be allocated to every person on your list and create a mini-budget for each. Certain special people might get a little more, such as parents or children; others might be in line for a little less. If your finances are tight, consider giving baked items to neighbors or friends instead of purchasing their gifts. Make sure all your mini-budgets add up to stay within the overall holiday spending plan.
3. Make a list and check it twice: Based on the money allocated for each person, create a gift list and stick to it. Holidays are packed with creative window displays, and last-minute stocking stuffers festoon checkout lines – a nightmare for those on a tight budget with an inclination to buy on impulse. Make sure to include babysitters, bus drivers, teachers and friends on the list that you might “impulsively” think of later, even if you intend to given them small items.
4. Use saving solutions: Once you have a gift in mind for each individual on the list, make sure to find the best deal. Whether using coupons, doorbusters, or online specials, it is worthwhile to do the homework and comparison shop before committing to a purchase.
5. Don’t rush: Saving can take time, so try to avoid rushing to get all the shopping done in one outing. Keep in mind some types of items such as sweaters often drop in price just before Christmas Day. Getting the best deal possible takes time, patience and a bit of strategy.
Avoiding the dreaded financial hangover of the holidays this season will put you in a better position to enjoy a spring break or a summer vacation. Make sure to add whatever is leftover from this year’s budget to a savings account or to a Christmas Club account to start piling up what you’ll need for next year.
Cait Klein, NerdWallet