The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time, but shopping for gifts and decorations can cause unnecessary financial stress. However, with a good budget and thoughtful planning, your holidays can be a little less stressful.
Use the tips and tools below to enjoy the season without letting holiday spending blow your budget.
1. Set your budget. The best way to start making a holiday budget is to look at last year’s spending. In what areas did you spend more than planned? Next, list the major items, activities and events you plan to spend money on this year, including gifts, entertaining, meals and travel. Estimate how much you can afford to spend in each category. Set a specific spending limit for each person on your gift list. Many financial planners recommend spending no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on holiday expenses.
Knowing your spending goals long beforehand will help you stay on track financially as the season nears. This easy-to-use Entertainment Planner can help.
2. Do it yourself. Homemade gifts can be a less expensive and more personal alternative to store-bought presents. Search for gift ideas online or spend an afternoon making baked goods for family and friends.
3. Join forces. Instead of spending money on each other this year, consider teaming with friends and family to give to those who may be less fortunate. Online opportunities can be found at the websites for Oxfam International and ACCION.
4. Travel wisely. If you plan on traveling during the holidays, take some time to determine how much it will cost you with our Travel Planner, and don't forget these tips for Saving on an Overseas Trip.
5. Entertain for less. Holidays are a wonderful time to entertain, and a little planning and budgeting can keep events stress-free. Let our Entertainment Planner help you plan a fun event that isn’t a huge expenditure. Also, check out these Holiday Savings Tips to help keep your holiday budget in shape.