December is the biggest gift-giving month - which is great for suppliers and retailers, but definitely the costliest time of year for shoppers. How can you avoid money-induced stress and tight finances going into the new year? Check out these 7 tips to avoid overspending this holiday season.
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1. Make a Budget
Before you begin your holiday shopping, decide in advance how much you want to spend. Take into account travel, food, gifts, decorations - what corners can you cut if the numbers aren't adding up?
2. Beware Retail Tricks
Many businesses will advertise "buy more, save more" type of sales. Watch out! Loyalty cards, retail credit, return policies - read the fine print before swiping your card. It's easy to get sucked into spending a few extra dollars on each shopping trip, and it adds up.
3. Limit Yourself
"Treat Yourself," they said. Self-gifting is a major culprit for overspending around the holidays. Nearly 60% of people partake in "self-gifting", spending an average of $130 on themselves per person.
4. Cut Down Convenience Costs
Holiday shopping can be stressful - products sell out of stock, fighting crowds at the mall, and all on a time constraint. We are often willing to pay for convenience, and these costs rise around this time of year. Don't fall into the trap of ordering fast food, expensive overnight shipping, or any of the other seemingly minor unnecessary purchases.
5. Form Expectations Early
You may decide to cut down on the number of Christmas gifts you will be giving this season, or how far you are traveling to meet family this year. Establish these changes sooner rather than later, as they will affect your holiday experience.
6. Cheap Travel Shortcuts
Travel is often one of the largest holiday expenses, especially if visiting family means venturing by plane or train across the country. Shop around different airlines and travel dates. Avoid baggage fees by packing light, do your research on food and hotel costs, etc. Doing the extra work now will save you some money when bringing the family together.
7. Track Finances
A key way to avoid overspending is to track your daily financial habits. Because of the extra shopping and gift purchasing, it's easy to forget your regular budgets (groceries, utility or rent bills, car payments, tuition costs just to name a few). Track your spending and keep your credit card charges in check to avoid shocking bills that hit you in January.