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Here’s How to Begin Setting a Budget for the Holidays Right Away

Here's How to Begin Setting a Budget for the Holidays Right Away

The holiday season, a time of comfort, joy, and spending a significant amount of money on flights, hotel stays, festive dinners, and a plethora of gifts. With inflation putting pressure on our wallets, many of us will need to be more frugal during this holiday season. One way to prepare for this is by starting your holiday planning now. While it might seem like it’s far off, November is just around the corner, and early planning will allow you to enjoy all the holiday festivities without compromising your financial goals. Here are six budgeting tips to put into action now so that you can relish the holiday season without depleting your savings.

Review Your Finances:

Before diving into the holiday season, take a moment to assess your financial situation. How much are you currently spending, saving, and investing? Are you meeting your financial goals? Understanding your financial health will give you a realistic view of what you can afford this holiday season. After this evaluation, you can start cutting back in various areas during the fall, ensuring that you have extra funds for gifts, activities, and seasonal indulgences. Consider using savings accounts like Ally Financial, which allow you to categorize your savings for specific goals, including the holiday season.

Check Your Credit Card:

Credit cards can offer more than just a convenient way to make purchases. They often come with additional benefits such as cashback rewards, bonus points, or miles. If you already have a credit card, carefully examine the perks it provides. You might find opportunities to secure cheaper travel options or use your cashback, points, or miles for flights and accommodations. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, research options that align with your needs. Some cards offer enticing sign-up bonuses, such as flight credits or free hotel nights, which can be advantageous for the upcoming holiday season.

Make a List and Set a Budget:

Gift-giving can be enchanting, but it’s easy to get carried away. Setting a budget is essential to stay on track. Compile a list of the individuals you plan to buy gifts for and decide on the amount you’re willing to spend on each person. Immediate family and close friends might receive more substantial portions of your budget, while acquaintances like neighbors or colleagues could receive smaller gifts. Calculate the total, ensuring it aligns with your comfort zone. Starting this process early allows you to begin purchasing gifts gradually, reducing the financial strain later on.

Shop Early Sales:

Don’t wait for the typical holiday sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many popular retailers frequently offer discounts and promotions. Keep an eye out for these early-season sales, which can provide you with excellent deals on significant items you’ve been eyeing. Not only does early shopping help you save money, but it also enables you to avoid the last-minute holiday shopping rush.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle:

The holiday season is often associated with consumerism, but it doesn’t have to be. Gift-giving can still be meaningful without excessive spending. Consider alternative options like donating to a charitable cause in someone’s name, buying thrifted items, regifting cherished books, or creating DIY gifts based on your interests. Get creative with gift wrapping by using materials like repurposed grocery bags or wrapping paper. Reusing and recycling can significantly reduce your expenses during the holiday season.

Embrace a Gift-Free Approach:

Ultimately, the holiday season is about spending quality time with loved ones and creating lasting memories. Instead of allocating a budget for presents, use that money (or ideally, less) to plan enjoyable experiences. Consider activities like ice skating with friends, hosting a holiday movie marathon, exchanging clothes, or painting each other’s nails instead of going to a salon. Engage in acts of kindness by creating kits for those in need, organizing book or cookie exchanges, trying new seasonal recipes, crafting seasonal cocktails at home, or even hosting a PowerPoint party. While gifts are wonderful, it’s the memories that truly endure.

Financial tip: Engage in open conversations with your friends and family about your financial situation. You’re likely not the only one with budgetary concerns, and discussing creative ways to save during the holiday season can be mutually beneficial.

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