4 Tips for Controlling Your Holiday Spending


This is a guest post from Taylor B., the founder and editor of Repaid.org. You can follow him on Twitter @RepaidOrg or on Repaid.org’s Facebook page.


4 Tips for Controlling Your Holiday Spending

One way to insure a happy new year is to keep a lid on your holiday spending. While that sounds easy enough to do, when was the last time any of us really did it? Here are a few tips to help you at least stay in the neighborhood of an affordable holiday season.



Create a Per-Person Holiday Budget

The National Retail Federation believes that the average consumer will spend $688.87 this holiday season. Many will put that amount on credit cards. Assuming 18 percent interest and only making the minimum payment each month, it could take you three years to pay this year’s holidays off! To avoid paying 2012 off in 2015, you need to get a budget together. Start by setting a limit per person and sticking to that limit. Make sure that all of your purchases are made with cash. If it is too late for this year, start 2013 off right. Open a savings account just for holiday spending. Set your per person limit now and divide your total by 50. Deposit that much each week. That way you can look forward to less credit card debt in 2014.



Set Goals For The Coming Year

Why look into the future before going holiday shopping? It throws some light on where you want to be next year and how far you may actually be from that goal right now. It will also give you and idea how much farther you will be if you do not control your impulse buying. It is much harder to save money for a new car or home if you have to pay a higher payments on your credit cards.



Leave Your Emotions Home

Your emotions can really take a toll on your credit card debt during the holiday season. It is easy to get caught up in the fun of giving gifts, especially to children who show so much enthusiasm. Leave these emotions at home when you go shopping, they will simply cause you to buy items that are unnecessary. Four of the most common emotional buying triggers are convenience, envy, security, and elation. The key is to know and recognize these triggers while you’re out shopping. Whenever you’re faced with a significant unplanned purchase, try to go home and think it over for 24 hours before pulling the trigger. You might be surprised how quickly the buying fever wears off.



Build Your Savings As You Go

You are going to be doing some shopping, so why not strengthen your savings account while doing it? We have already established that paying with cash is your best option during the holiday season, take it a step further. Pay for everything with bills only. Keep all of the coins you collect during the season in a jar or something. When the banks open back up after New Year’s Day, deposit all of those coins. Last year I was able to pad my savings account by a touch over $20 this way. Not much, but that was twenty bucks I would not have had otherwise.

This holiday season does not have to lead to a bout of New Year’s depression when you get the first round of credit card bills. Keep these tips in mind during the season and you may find yourself a little better off in the coming year.



Do you have other tips to control your holiday spending?

A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page

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  1. The only emotion I have when holiday shopping is rage! I try to leave it at home every year, but all the rude people and lack of car parking put me in a foul mood and the rage finds a way out.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..30 Tips – How to Stay Safe on the InternetMy Profile

  2. Great tips! We budget throughout the year for Christmas and set a per person budget. It makes shopping so much easier knowing how much we have to spend and we’re done once that amount is spent.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..The Risks and Rewards of Taking The Plunge – Part 2My Profile

  3. We only use “free money” for the holidays – mostly through the rewards that we’ve earned on our credit cards throughout the year.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said, She Said – Holiday Gifts For The Renters?My Profile

  4. @Glen: Haha, you should try doing more of your shopping online! I know it seems less personal, but there are so many great cyber-deals this time of year. We constantly check RetailMeNot.com for offer codes and discounts.

    @John S: I’m with you: I really think having the per-person budget is key. Before we did this, we’d about croak when we realized how much we’d spent. It’s too easy to make exceptions and overspend without that per-person cap.

    @Mrs. Pop: Wow! We need to work on maximizing our rewards throughout the year. That’s huge!
    Taylor @ Repaid.org recently posted..3 Steps To Eliminating All Of Your Debt, Part 3: ExecuteMy Profile

  5. I definitely plan on doing this: “Open a savings account just for holiday spending. Set your per person limit now and divide your total by 50. Deposit that much each week.” Some other sites have also recommended it, and it makes sense. I might try this strategy with various savings goals (i.e. $200/month to a car fund, $300 to an emergency fund, etc.).
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..20 Ideas for New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  6. I do find sticking to a per-person budget means it’s harder to go over budget overall.
    Gillian @ Money After Graduation recently posted..I’m still having a minimalist ChristmasMy Profile

  7. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    I need to start setting goals. That’s one thing I really suck at is planning ahead and acting on it.
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..Sometimes It’s Better to Pay UpMy Profile

  8. We created two tiers of people we wanted to give presents to. The upper tier were close family members. They got gifts in the $25-$50 range. The lower tier was everyone else. The got <$10 and even <$5 gifts. We spent under $200 on 20 people.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..When there isn&#8217;t enough money at the end of the monthMy Profile

  9. The per person budget thing really works. That’s how our Christmas list has been broken down for years. It helps you to know what the end result of +/- $5 extra dollars per person can become!
    My Money Design recently posted..Why You Need to Get Your Full 401k Matching as Early as PossibleMy Profile

  10. Our families stopped spending money on gifts years ago. The only holiday spending we do is to buy some extra groceries to make special meals and bake some cookies for Christmas.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..How Eating Dark Chocolate Improves Your Health and Well BeingMy Profile

  11. I try to set a per-person budget, but once I get out there shopping I start feeling real generous and usually go over it! I’ve gotten better in recent years, but the holidays are still the one time of the year I tend to throw frugality to the wind.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Make These Year End Money Moves NowMy Profile

  12. By going home and thinking over the necessity of the unplanned purchase, I find that my enthusiasm for buying the item wanes. So if I can control my impulse, I end up not going back to the store to buy it. But if thinking overnight results to the thought of can’t live without it, I just juggle my budget to find the money for it.
    Amy Turner recently posted..Iberiabank Visa Gold Card Review: Low Interest, Cash Back and No Annual FeeMy Profile

  13. Marcel Spitz says:

    Great post, keeping in mind that it is the festive season. Love your blog, will be back for more.

  14. Sigourney says:

    I’m happy to say that my holiday spending didn’t go overboard. For this year, I started saving money for this year’s holiday gifts so that I will not worry on how to stay within the budget.
    Sigourney recently posted..What To Look For When Comparing Car LoansMy Profile

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