While the holidays represent a time of joy, family, and togetherness, for many, they can also bring about stress – particularly when it comes to shopping and personal finances. But holiday shopping doesn't have to be a burden; in fact, there are numerous ways you can actually reap benefits from it.
Be prepared and plan ahead this holiday season to avoid overspending and racking up credit card debt. Before stressing about the impending expenses, take into consideration the following smart holiday spending tips that can help you make the most of your holiday shopping experience.
Smart Holiday Spending Tips
Set a budget – and stick to it.
Set a limit on how much you want to spend per person (or on a group of people) and how much you can afford for everyone on your list. Avoid the temptation to keep spending once you've reached your budget. After all, does your cousin really need that third candle?
Include all the extras
Try to be as thorough as possible when building your budget so there aren't any unexpected surprises. Don't forget to include things like wrapping paper, holiday cards, food, decorations, and travel expenses. Make a list, check it twice, and shop knowing you've planned ahead to avoid overspending.
Use cash for everything
Once you've spent everything you have, you're done. This helps avoid the temptation of putting items on a credit card you can't really afford.
Loose change can add up quickly. Anytime you have loose change in your pockets or wallet, throw it in a jar and forget about it. At the end of the year, roll all the coins you've saved and exchange for cash. You'll be surprised what a big dent it can make in your holiday spending!
Waiting until the last minute could mean items you need are sold out or you've missed the big sale. Starting your holiday shopping early also eliminates the temptation to buy the first (and possibly most expensive) item you see.
Make your own gifts
Everyone loves homemade treats and decorations around the holidays. Whether you're a baker or crafter, a homemade gift can sometimes mean a lot more than a store-bought one.
Don't get sucked in by every sale sign you see. Sometimes retailers will increase the price and slap a 10% off sticker so shoppers think they are getting a deal. Shop around, both in stores and online, to find the best deals.
Cash in rewards
Many credit cards or store cards offer cash back, and the holidays are the perfect time to cash in on any rewards you earned throughout the year. If you have several credit cards with rewards programs, figure out which card offers the best cash back bonus or holiday bonus rewards and consider making your holiday purchases, or paying off the remaining expenses, with that card.
The holidays don't have to be associated with a time of stress and financial strain. By planning early and sticking to your budget, you won't have to face the post-holiday financial debt blues.