The holiday season is pending and you’re all set with a budget. Great! That puts you steps ahead of the majority of people. However, before you head out to begin your holiday shopping, let’s step back for a moment. You may have made some critical mistakes in your holiday budget. Identifying them ahead of time will save you stress in the long run.
#1 Buying the first item you see: Okay, so your kid wants the new gaming system. You’ve budgeted it and you know you can afford it. You head out to the big box electronics store to grab the item.
Stop! Have you done your research? Is this the cheapest you can get it for? Are there any promotions or online promotion codes that could save you money? Just because it fits your budget doesn’t mean you should spend that amount. You might be able to save money. Chances are, there will be a few surprises during this holiday season and a few bucks saved may come in handy.
#2 Not tracking your expenses: One of the most common mistakes people make when creating a budget is they don’t actually track how much they’ve spent. How will you know then if you’ve stayed on budget?
Your tracking system doesn’t have to be fancy. You can simply write at the top of a piece of paper how much you have to spend, who you have to buy for and then leave room to write down how much you’ve spent. Clip receipts to the paper so you can quickly do the math, and you’re set. Don’t walk out the door before actually creating a system to track your expenses.
#3 Not factoring in unforeseen expenses: It’s almost guaranteed that there are going to be some unexpected expenses during the holidays. If you don’t leave room in your budget for these expenses, they can put you into debt and cause stress. This is a season to enjoy, not to get stressed about. Create a miscellaneous expenses category in your budget and allocate some money toward it. That way, all your bases are covered.
#4 Pride and Ego: All too often we buy gifts to impress others. For example, that $500 bottle of wine you gave your boss as a hostess gift. There’s no need to do that. Your hostess would likely be just as happy with a lesser bottle of wine. It really is the thought that counts. Don’t let your pride and ego get you into hot water.
#5 Too much: It’s easy to go overboard during the holidays. Learn the value of scaling back. Buy your children three gifts this holiday instead of thirty. Scale back on the decorations and really focus on quality instead of quantity. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s easy to go over budget during the holidays. Take the time to make a plan and commit to sticking to it. Remember what the holidays mean to you and focus on that.