It is almost the first of November: let the holiday marathon begin! But before you dive into a gravy boat, take some time to work out a holiday-attack plan. Over spending and lack of budgeting take a toll on almost everyone during this time of year, so try taking a few simple steps to avoid a stocking full of financial trouble this holiday season.
- Make a list of your holiday expenses. Are there any that you can cut out? How about alternatives? Remember, gifts are not your only expense; travel, food, decorations, etc. all add up very quickly.
- Never underestimate the power of homemade. Whether it's food or presents, when you put the time into making something, not only do you save money, but there's an added level of appreciation and value.
- Take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sales. The thought of venturing into stores on Black Friday may make you cringe, but it's the right idea. Instead of saving all your shopping until the end, spread it out over the next couple months; this can help take away some of the stress of gift buying and allow you to take advantage of the holiday bargains without the Thanksgiving weekend rush.
- Avoid relying on credit cards to pick up every tab. It may be easy to say, "It's a once-a-year expense; I'll pay it off right after the holidays," but be realistic. If you cannot, without a doubt, pay off your balance in full between January and February, reconsider you spending. And if you have more than one card, limit your use to the one with the lowest interest rate.
Check out these budgeting and spending resources for more information to help you save this holiday season.