In our last post, we shared some of the key steps to creating and managing a holiday budget successfully. Hopefully, that information has come in handy. Since the Season of Giving is approaching fast, here are a few more tips and tricks that may come in handy throughout the season:
Think Outside the Buck
“Budget” is not a bad word. If you don’t like it, you can always come up with a name to replace it, like “Spending Plan” or “Cash Flow Strategy.” Instead of thinking of a budget as being a means of limitation or denial, retrain your brain to think of it as a means to financial success. If you have no plan, you could end up living paycheck to paycheck. A well-prepared strategy can help you avoid falling into debt, and perhaps even leave you with extra funds so you can better enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.
Check Your Inventory
Your holiday shopping should start at home! Check every room—including the basement, garage, and attic if you have one—to see if you have anything that may help you save money. You may find wrapping paper, ribbons, decorations and greeting cards you still have on hand from last year, or even gifts you forgot to give (or would like to re-gift).
Turn Cleaning into a Treasure Hunt
If you are entertaining during the holidays, you’ll likely be giving your home a thorough cleaning. This is one chore you may not want to put off until the last minute, as it can provide an opportunity to contribute to your holiday funds. Finding money in the couch is a start, but you would be amazed by some of the savings that can come with a good cleaning!
Cash in on Benefits
Using cash for your holiday expenses is a good option for obvious reasons. You are spending money you know you have, while avoiding interest charges.
Bonus tip: Put your loose change in a jar at the end of each day. When you’re ready to cash in, you’ll probably have more money than you think. It might sound old fashioned, but it works!
This is not to say that credit cards are bad; just be sure to pay off the balance at the end of the month to avoid fees and interest. One benefit of using credit cards is that certain companies offer rewards that you can use to make different kinds of purchases. Always read the fine print or call a customer service agent to make sure you are clear on all the terms, and that they work for you first.
Bonus tip: If you used any credit cards for holiday spending last year, look at your past statements. It’s a great way to refresh your memory on how much you spent, what other charges you accrued, and how long it took to pay them off. Use it as a guide as you prepare your budget this year.