While school may have just started (or is about to depending on where you live) and the holiday season seems an eternity way, it is really just around the corner. However, by starting some simple budgeting strategies for the holidays, you can help to better plan, stay in your planned expenditure range, and avoid the dreaded after-Christmas credit card crunch.
To get started on early Christmas budgeting, consider the following tips:
- Seasonal gifts – If you have people in the family who love summer events such as a camping, specific sports, fishing or even traveling, now is the perfect time to make purchases on the end of the season sales. Deep discounts are available that give you more freedom to buy a gift at a lower cost.
- Set aside gift money – Plan your total amount of expenditures on gifts and entertaining. This can be X amount for each person as well as Y amount for your meals, parties, and events. Most people can accurately evaluate this based on the pattern of the last few years. Divide that total by the number of weeks until Christmas and start a savings account without a debit or credit card to bank your Christmas budget.
- Talk to family – If you are on a budget, it is very likely that other family members are as well. Being proactive and talking to the family early in the year about limitations on gift giving or events will give everyone time to consider the options without feeling pressure.
- Pay off credit card debt – Outstanding credit card debit should also be cleared up as much as possible. At the very least, make more than the minimum payments if possible. It is also a good idea to put aside payments for your credit cards for December and January, so you have a cushion. Try to avoid using credit cards for holiday purchases unless you can pay them off immediately.
While it may be too early for layaway, start to consider your options. This can be a smart way to purchase on credit without paying any interest. Additionally, by choosing your time to start the layaway, you can pay what is comfortable for you on a weekly basis.