According to BusinessInsider, one-third of Americans planning to buy gifts this season approach the task with no predetermined spending limit. And, 55% of Americans surveyed in September say they had not yet saved any money for the holiday shopping season. But, if you feel you don’t have a handle on your spending during the holidays, or find it difficult to create a budget, you may need to make some simple adjustments order to help you visualize where your money is going this season. Knowing exactly what you have, and how you are spending it, can help you stay in control of your financial life.
Here are some helpful habits to help you stay on budget:
1. Itemize Your Spending
Shopping with a list will help you remember everything you need to purchase for the holidays. Whether you need to purchase groceries for Thanksgiving, or gifts for Christmas, making these lists will help you visualize the additional money you are spending. If your budget is tight, you will be able to prioritize these items so you don’t overspend, or make unnecessary purchases.
2. Use a Budgeting App
There’s an app for that! Take advantage of some user-friendly apps to help you create and keep track of your budget goals. Let technology do some of the organizing and calculating you may find difficult to get started. Some easy-to-use apps include Mint, Expensify and ReadyForZero.
3. Log Your Expenses
Over the next few weeks, carry a pocket-size notebook with you. Jot down every penny you spend, whether it is on bills, food, travel, savings, etc. The idea is to see exactly where every dollar is being spent each month, and to make some positive adjustments. You can become more aware of your spending habits, while finding areas where you can reduce some unnecessary spending.
4. Live Within Your Means
Shopping with cash, or using a calculator to quickly get an estimated total of your groceries and gifts you need to purchase, can make it easier to manage your budget. By seeing exactly what amount will be spent, you can quickly deduct those purchases from your bank account balance to see if you are overspending. Shopping with a debit card or credit card makes it easy to assume the transactions won’t affect your bottom line as much. But, pulling cash from your wallet may have a bigger impact on your spending that you realize.
5. DIY Gifts
Simple restoration, recycling and crafting techniques can save you from unnecessary spending on new items you were thinking to give as gifts. Do-It-Yourself crafts will not only save you money during the shopping season, it also adds a personal touch that will add sentimental value your friends and family will never forget.
6. Find Ways to Spend Your Free Time Without Spending Money
At the end of the day, it is always nice to reward yourself. Create your own ways to reward yourself over the holidays without spending money in order to help you stay financially on track. Plan a family game-night spent around the dining room table, build a snowman or go snowshoeing to enjoy the outdoors, visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while or search for free events to attend in your area. By finding ways to prevent the need to spend money, you will develop a positive spending pattern and keep you financially prepared for the long-term.