Three Tips for Easy Holiday Budgeting

Budgeting for gifts, decorations and other holiday expenses this time of the year can be tough. Here are a few tips so you can spend with less stress.

#1 - Whether holiday shopping online or in a store, don't shop without a list.

It may seem simple but making a list before you shop is one of the best ways to avoid overspending.

  • Make a list of every person you need to buy for, using the notes app or good old-fashioned pen and paper to keep track.
  • Instead of a set dollar amount, give yourself a budget range for each person. This offers flexibility in case items are sold out or their wish list changes.
  • Be flexible, but not too flexible. Try to stay within the budgeted price range for each person.

Remember to budget for wrapping paper, boxes, and bows, as well as shipping costs if you need to send gifts to distant family and friends.

#2 – Assess last year's holiday spending and look for ways to spend smarter.

Take a mental inventory of the year before and use that information to help determine your holiday budget this year. Are the gifts you bought for the kids still in use or did they play with it once and lose interest?

  • Avoid the January "holiday hangover" by revisiting last year's holiday spending and making necessary adjustments.
  • Evaluate your list - buying gifts for everyone, especially in a large extended family, can add a lot to your holiday budget. Suggest exchanging names, white elephant gifts or other fun holiday traditions to give everyone's budget some breathing room.

Focus on experiences instead of gifts - a family baking day, winter sporting field day, or a holiday movie marathon. It’s less expensive than individual gifts for extended family and the memories are priceless.

#3 – Skip the high-rate credit cards.

High-rate credit cards can add a hefty interest charge, making the holidays more expensive. Cornerstone offers a holiday loan at a much lower interest rate.

  • Don’t use high-rate credit cards to extend your holiday budget. Lower-rate personal loans, like CCF's Holiday Helper loan, can help fund your holidays.
  • Even if you earn rewards on your credit card spending, you will likely pay more than the value of the rewards if you carry a balance month-to-month.

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