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?