5 tips to help you take charge of your holiday spending
By ATB Financial 28 November 2019 3 min read
We are in the midst of the holiday season! That means purchasing gifts, decorations, food and beverages for parties and dinners and maybe some traveling. If you’re not careful, those holiday bills can really rack up. Here are 5 tips to help keep your holiday spending in check:
1. Create a holiday budget and stick to it.
Making a clear budget for the holidays can reduce or eliminate overspending. First, make a list of all the things you will be purchasing including gifts, food, beverages, decorations and other holiday expenses. Then break down how much you can spend for each item. Determine how much you want to spend per gift, for hosting an event or for any travel you might have to do this Christmas. Once you’ve made a budget - stick to it!
Need some help? ATB offers a great tool called TrackIt. It’s a free, online mobile money management tool integrated into your online banking that allows you to see your account and credit card balances to better track your spending.
To determine your holiday budget, it’s also important to understand your current cash flow. You can use this handy budget worksheet, to give you a better understanding of what goes in and out of your bank account during the holidays and all year long.
2. Plan ahead for the holidays.
Planning ahead can help you avoid waiting until the last minute, getting swept up in the moment, and overspending. Watch for sales and deals in the weeks leading up to the holidays.
If your holiday expenses are too much to handle in December, you can also plan ahead by saving a little each month throughout the year. Then come December, you’ll have a nice sum of savings to use for the big holiday shopping trips, instead of dipping into funds you need for regular expenses. You can have an automatic transfer come out each month and put into your savings account so you won’t really miss it.
3. Talk to your family and friends about holiday gift price limits and expectations.
Have a conversation with your family and friends about price limits on gifts and set clear expectations. Sometimes we feel like we must spend more, because others are giving more, but that can lead to dangerous overspending for everyone. Decide ahead of time the price limit for gifts exchanged with loved ones. If you have a large family, you can draw names out of a hat and purchase a more substantial gift for that one person, with a set price limit as well.
When deciding what to gift to give, you also may want to consider a homemade gift. With a little planning and time, you can create a meaningful, personalized gift that can save you money.
4. Share the responsibility of holiday hosting.
When it comes to hosting holiday parties or family gatherings, it can become a lot of work, and a big expense as well. Instead of purchasing the entire holiday feast, complete with appetizers, desserts and beverages, ask family members if they can pitch in by assigning each person a dish or something to bring. Not only will it cut the cost, it will also cut the workload so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of loved ones.
5. Avoid using credit over the holidays.
Remember that the holiday season is short, and Christmas is just one day. You don’t want to be playing catch up all year after this season is over. Avoid high interest debt by not racking up your credit cards and only spending the money you have in your bank account. If you have to use your credit card, pay off your balance as soon as possible to reduce interest payments.
Remember that Christmas is about being with those we care about, so make memories with your time and not with your wallet.
If you find yourself in debt and are struggling to get through the holidays, make an appointment at a branch near you. Our experts can review your options with you and help you build a debt plan that can lighten the load this holiday season.