7 tips for staying on budget this holiday season
Do you overspend during the holidays? Try these tips to help you stay within this year's budget.
Holiday spending isn't a competition. Forget what you gave and how much you spent (and received) last year. Create and stick to a budget based on what you can afford this year.
Set a limit
According to the National Retail Federation, the average American family plans to spend about $750 on holiday shopping. But that doesn't mean you have to spend this much. The question is, "How much can you and your family afford?" Look at your regular monthly expenses, other financial obligations, and the money you've budgeted for the holidays. Write down this amount and don't go over it whether you're paying with cash, check, debit or a credit card.
Divide and conquer
Once you've set your budget, divide it up. Earmark specific amounts of money for individual gifts and other holiday purchases such as greeting cards, decorations and party expenses.
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If you plan to use a credit card for holiday shopping, consider the benefits of having a card with cash-back rewards. Check out the new Union Plus Rewards Credit Card that offers 1.5% cash-back on purchases.
Look for multiple-purchase discounts, then shop with a friend and split the savings. Take advantage of "two-for-one" specials or "buy two, get the second for half-price" deals.
Keep track of the money you budget and spend for individual purchases. Note how much you go over or stay under your budget. To help you, create a scorecard with these four headings: Name, Gift/Planned $, Money Spent, Difference +/-. You're less likely to blow your budget when you hold yourself accountable and write down every purchase.
For more holiday shopping tips, check out Money Management International's Holiday Headquarters. MMI is the Union Plus partner providing working families with budgeting assistance and financial management services.