Holiday shopping can be stressful as prices are increasing, and it can be easy to overspend on gifts for family and friends. With the additional purchases of decorations, travel expenses, and holiday foods for the festive family get-together, it is important to put aside time to plan accordingly to help relieve some of the unwanted holiday stress.

Create a Budget

The first step in tackling holiday gift purchases is to set limits and have a realistic spending budget. Everyone is in a different financial situation. Your financial situation will determine the amount you are able to comfortably spend during the holidays. Budget planning should depend on the remainder of money you have after your expenses and bills are paid. The amount of discretionary income that is available will determine how much money should be spent on gifts. If you already keep track of your monthly budget, it will allow you the possibility to save money months in advance. By keeping track of money that was spent in prior holiday seasons, it will provide you with an estimate of the amount of money you will need for this year. When creating your holiday budget it is essential to determine a realistic amount of money that you can afford and stick to it. This is especially important when you use credit cards to purchase your gifts. It is important to budget properly so that you will be able to pay your credit card balance in full when you are billed for your next payment.

Plan a shopping strategy

Once you figure out your budget, the next step is to spend the money accordingly. When shopping for gifts, it is important to prioritize your family and loved ones so that you have gifts for everyone before reaching your spending budget. It is important to decide on who you need to buy gifts for and to set a limit for how much you are going to spend on each person. Online shopping is a great way to compare prices between retailers to ensure you are getting the best deal, and therefore, are saving the most money. An additional way to save money is to be knowledgeable of the holiday sales that are available. I have found that spending some of the holiday budget on experience-like gifts such as trips or tickets to a Yankees game, tends to be a family favorite. Providing personalized gifts will help to minimize impulse purchases and provide a memorable experience for family and friends.

Keep Track of your Spending

When you are first creating your budget, it is essential to keep track of how much money you are spending. There are several ways to do this. For example, keeping receipts and recording your purchases are two ways to keep track of your spending. By having an accurate record of your spending, this will allow you to adjust your budget as needed. Keeping an accurate record of your spending will allow yourself the flexibility to budget on gifts, food, and other holiday essentials without breaking the bank. If you end up going over-budget in one area unexpectedly, you can cut back on your budget in another. Keeping track of your budget allows you to adapt accordingly and to stay on your planned budget.